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ATI Labuduwa

Civil Engineering
Trainee Manual

Training Unit

Foundation Engineering

No: CE 020
Training Unit

Foundation Engineering

Theoretical Part

No.: CE 020

Edition: 2009
All Rights Reserved

Editor: MCE Industrietechnik Linz GmbH & Co

Education and Training Systems, DM-1
Lunzerstrasse 64 P.O.Box 36, A 4031 Linz / Austria
Tel. (+ 43 / 732) 6987 – 3475
Fax (+ 43 / 732) 6980 – 4271



LEARNING OBJECTIVES ....................................................................................................5

1 ENGINEERING PROPERTIES OF SOILS....................................................................6

1.1 Introduction ...........................................................................................................6
1.2 Models Used in Design of Foundations ................................................................7
1.3 Engineering Properties of Soils .............................................................................8
1.3.1 Soil Volume and Density Relationships...........................................................13
1.4 Strength of Soils..................................................................................................16

2 BEARING CAPACITY OF SHALLOW EFOUNDATIONS ...........................................18

2.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................18
2.2 Definition of Bearing Capacity .............................................................................18
2.2.1 Ultimate Bearing Capacity...............................................................................18
2.2.2 Net Ultimate Bearing Capacity ........................................................................18
2.2.3 Safe Bearing Capacity.....................................................................................19
2.2.4 Safe Settlement Pressure ...............................................................................19
2.2.5 Allowable Bearing Pressure ............................................................................19
2.2.6 Bearing Capacity Faliure Patterns..................................................................19
2.3 Terzaghi’s Bearing Capacity Equation and Its Limitations ..................................21
2.4 Major Factors Affecting Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundation ......................25
2.4.1 Effect of Water Table on Ultimate Bearing Capacity .......................................25
2.5 Factor of Safety...................................................................................................26
2.6 Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundation in Clays ..............................................28
2.7 Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundation in Sands .............................................30

3 DESIGN OF SHALLOW FOUNDATIONS ...................................................................31

3.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................31
3.2 Types of Shallow Foundations ............................................................................31
3.3 Design Considerations ........................................................................................31
3.4 Depth of Footings................................................................................................33
3.5 Foundation Loadings and Selection of Foundations ...........................................35
3.6 Design of Footings ..............................................................................................36

4 DESIGN OF RAFT FOUNDATIONS ...........................................................................38
4.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................38
4.2 Types of Rafts and Their Use .............................................................................39
4.3 Stiffness or Rigidity of Soil Structure System ......................................................39
4.4 Allowable Soil Pressure for Rafts in Cohesive Soils ...........................................41
4.4.1 Allowable pressure based on settlement.........................................................41
4.4.2 Allowable pressures based on strength in cohesive soils ...............................42
4.5 Allowable Soil Pressure for Rafts in Cohesionless Soils.....................................44
4.6 Illustrative Examples ...........................................................................................46


5.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................49
5.2 Types of Piles......................................................................................................49
5.3 Factors Affecting Choice of Type of Piles ...........................................................50
5.4 Load Carrying Capacity by Various Methods ......................................................51
5.4.1 Piles in Granular Soils .....................................................................................52
5.4.2 Piles in Cohesive Soils ....................................................................................56
5.4.3 Capacity of Piles in c- Soils by Static Formula ..............................................58
5.5 Uplift Resistance of Piles ....................................................................................59
5.6 Negative Skin Friction .........................................................................................60
5.6.1 Estimation of Negative Skin Friction................................................................60
5.6.2 Method of Mitigating Negative Skin Friction ....................................................62
5.7 Comparison of Capacities of Driven and Bored Piles .........................................63
5.8 Illustrative Examples ...........................................................................................63


6.1 Steps in Choosing Type of Foundation ...............................................................70
6.2 Bearing Capacity and Settlement........................................................................71
6.3 Design Loads ......................................................................................................71

7 RETAINING WALLS ....................................................................................................74

7.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................74
7.2 Types of Retaining Walls ....................................................................................74
7.3 Nature and Magnitudes of Earth Pressure ..........................................................76
7.4 Pressure on Retaining Structures .......................................................................80

7.5 Design of Retaining Walls ...................................................................................81
7.5.1 Design of Basement Walls ..............................................................................82
7.5.2 Design of Cantilever Retaining Wall................................................................82
7.5.3 Economic Design of High Retaining Walls ......................................................83
7.6 Importance of Drainage of Backfill ......................................................................84

8 CAISSONS OR WELL FOUNDATIONS......................................................................86

8.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................86
8.2 Types of Wells or Caissons.................................................................................86
8.3 Forces Acting on Wells .......................................................................................89
8.4 Bearing capacity of Wells ....................................................................................90
8.5 Methods of Analysis ............................................................................................91
8.6 Stability analysis of Well Foundations .................................................................92


9.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................94
9.2 Depth, Lateral Extent of Exploration and Borings for Exploration .......................95
9.2.1 Depth of Exploration........................................................................................95
9.3 Methods for Sub-soil Investigation ......................................................................98
9.4 Details and Presentation of Soil Investigation Report .......................................100

REFERENCES .................................................................................................................102



The trainee should ...

 Understand basics of soil mechanics

 Know the engineering properties
 Different types of foundations
 Choice of foundations
 Design of shallow foundation
 Design of deep foundation
 Design of raft foundation
 Earth pressure on retaining structure
 Know basics of well foundations or caissons
 Know basics of soil exploration and geological investigation of sites


1.1 Introduction

The terms rock and soil, as used by the civil engineer, imply a clear distinction between
two kinds of foundation materials. Rock is considered to be a natural aggregate of mineral
grains connected by strong and permanent cohesive forces. Soil, on the other hand, is
regarded as a natural aggregate of mineral grains, with or without organic constituents that
can be separated by gentle mechanical means such as agitation in water. These
convenient definitions are generally understood and are used in this book. Nevertheless, in
reality there is no sharp distinction between rock and soil. The processes of weathering
may weaken even the strongest and most rigid rocks, and some highly indurate soils may
exhibit strengths comparable to those of weathered rock.

The design of foundations of structures such as buildings, bridges, and dams generally
requires knowledge of such factors as:

1. The load that will be transmitted by the superstructure to the foundation system,
2. The requirements of the local building code,
3. The behavior and stress-related deformability of soils that will support the foundation
system, and
4. The geological conditions of the soil under consideration. To a foundation engineer, the
last two factors are extremely important because they concern soil mechanics.

The geotechnical properties of a soil - such as the grain-size distribution, plasticity,

compressibility, and shear strength - can be assessed by proper laboratory testing. And,
recently, emphasis has been placed on in situ determination of strength and deformation
properties of soil, because this process avoids the sample disturbances that occur during
field exploration. However, under certain circumstances, all of the needed parameters
cannot be determined or are not determined because of economic or other reasons. In
such cases, the engineer must make certain assumptions regarding the properties of the
soil. To assess the accuracy of soil parameters - whether they were determined in the
laboratory and the field or were assumed - the engineer must have a good grasp of the
basic principles of soil mechanics. At the same time, he or she must realize that the natural
soil deposits on which foundations are constructed are not homogeneous in most cases.

Thus the engineer must have a thorough understanding of the geology of the area - that is,
the origin and nature of soil stratification and also the groundwater conditions. Foundation
engineering is a clever combination of soil mechanics, engineering geology, and proper
judgment derived from past experience. To a certain extent, it may be called an "art."

This chapter serves primarily as a review of the basic geotechnical properties of soils. It
includes topics such as grain-size distribution, plasticity, models used in design of
foundations and shear strength parameters of soils.

1.2 Models Used in Design of Foundations

In general, following models are used to solve practical problems in soil mechanics:

1. By using empirical or thumb rules without any calculations based on past experience
or local practice. For example, we will design a low retaining wall by this method.
Similarly for timbering of a shallow excavation up to 3 m height, it is more economical
to use local practices.
2. By theoretical calculations using the soil properties and theories of soil mechanics as
in the study of the stability of an earth slope.
3. By actual prototype testing under field conditions after theoretical study as in the
design of pile foundations.
4. By adopting construction with the observational method of using field indicators to
monitor soil behaviour as in soil improvement by pre-loading.

The method of using combination of numerical calculations for initial design combined with
prototype testing and field observations is the most commonly used and recommended
method for foundation construction in major projects. The pure observational method has
the disadvantage that we may come across many surprises during construction so that
forward planning becomes difficult unless we have large amount of experience on similar
projects. The method of numerical calculation requires the choice of representative
parameters which can be obtained only from very accurate field and laboratory
investigations. It is of utmost Importance that representative soil properties are used in
design calculations. An approximate calculation with satisfactory soil properties wiII give
us better results than an exact theoretical analysis with doubtful soil properties. In case of
solving problems using theoretical calculations one or more of the methods are used as
shown in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1 Models used in soil mechanics

Problem Model
Stress distribution Boussinesq's elastic half space
Plastic failure Rankine’s plastic state
Consolidation and settlement of Terzaghi's model - Spring supported piston and
cohesive soils dashpot
Coulomb-Mohr model and Roscoe's critical
Strength of soils
state model
Earth pressure Coulomb's wedge or Rankine's plastic failure
Stiffness of soil Elastic half space or Winkler models
Contact pressure Elastic half space or Winkler models

1.3 Engineering Properties of Soils

Soil properties can be divided into two groups namely: 1) physical properties and 2)
mechanical or engineering properties. They are also known as index properties. Important
engineering properties are presented below.

1) Physical Properties:

These properties give us a general indication of the type and state of the soil we are
dealing with. They are also known as index properties. The important physical propertis
 Geological origin
 Grain size distribution
 Unit weight
 Specific gravity
 Liquid limit, plastic limit and shrinkage limit
 Natural water content of fine grained soils
 Void ratio of clays
 Relative density of sands
 Activity of clays
 Sensitivity of clays
 Swelling index of clays.

2) Mechanical or Engineering Properties:
These are the properties we use in our engineering calculations. The important
engineering properties are the following:

 Shear strength and stress-strain characteristics

 Modulus of subgrade reaction
 Deformation modulus (modulus of elasticity)
 Consolidation characteristics
 Other special properties like permeability for special problems.

One of the fundamental differences of natural soil deposits from other manufactured civil
engineering materials like steel is its non-uniformity. At the same site, soil may vary along
its length and depth of the site. Hence, what we should aim at is to get a representative
general value of the properties. Because of this reason, in soil engineering, we seek to find
properties by laboratory tests as well as by special field tests. Much data can be obtained
from simple field tests like standard penetration tests (SPT) or static cone penetration tests
(CPT). A foundation engineer should necessarily be aware of the empirical relations
between simple field tests and the engineering properties of the soil. Defintion of some
improtant engineering properties are given below.

Water Content, wN

Water content determinations are made on the recovered soil samples to obtain the natural
water content, wN. Water content determination are also commonly made in soil
improvement studies (compaction, using admixtures, etc). The ratio of weight of water, Ww
to the weight of soil solids, Ws, expressed as a percentage but usually used in decimal
form is known as water conetnt, wN.

wN   100%  (1.1)

Grain Size

The grain size distribution test is used for soil classification and has value in designing soil
filters. A soil filter is used to allow drainage of pore water under a hydraulic gradient with
erosion of soil fines minimized. Grain size of soils are determined using standard
procedure described in standards such as ASTM.

Unit Weight, γ
In general, unit weight of soil can be expressed as sttaed in Eqn. (1.2).

 (1.2)
where, = unit weight, Wt= weight of the soil sample, Vt= volume of the soil sample.

Unit weight, γ is fairly easy to estimate for cohesive soil by trimming a block (or length of a
recovered tube sample) to convenient size, weighting it, and then placing it in a volumetric
jar and measuring the quantity of water required to fill the container. The unit weight is

Weight of sample (1.3)

γ wet 
Volume of jar - volume of water to fill jar

The unit weight of the cohesionless samples is very difficult (and costly) to determine.
Where only the unit weight is required, good result can be obtained by recovering a sample
with a piston sampler. With a known volume initially recovered, later disturbance is of no
consequence, and we have

Weight of sample recovered

γ wet  (1.4)
Initial volume of piston sample

Specific Gravity, Gs

The Specific Gravity of the soil grain is of some value in computing the void ratio when the
unit weight and water content are known. Specific Gravity, Gs is usually subscripted to
identify the quantity; for soil grains, Gs is defined as stated in Eqn. 1.5. Typical values of Gs
for some soils are presented in Table 1.2.

Vs s
Gs   (1.5)
w w
where, Gs= specific gravity, Ws= wt. of solid, Vs= volume of solid, w= unit wt. of water,
s= unit weight of solids


Table 1.2 Specific gravity of different soils
Soil Gs
Gravel 2.65-2.68
Sand 2.65-2.68
Silt (inorganic) 2.62-2.68
Clay (organic) 2.58-2.65
Clay (inorganic) 2.68-2.75

A value of Gs= 2.67 is commonly used for cohesionless soils and a value of 2.70 for
inorganic clay. Where any uncertainity exists of a reliable value of Gs, one should perform
a test on a minimum of three samples.

Atterberg’s Limits

The behaviour of fine grained soils depends on its mineral composition, the water content,
the degree of saturation and its structure. In particular, the water content has always been
considered an important and reliable indication of the behaviour of cohesive soils since the
beginning of soil mechanics. Swedish soil scientist Atterberg, in the early 1900’s, first
identified that a gradual decrease in water content of a clay soil slurry causes the soil to
pass through four states or conditions (consistency); liquid, plastic, semi-solid and solid.

Liquid state is the condition of a fine grained soil at which the soil will flow on its own
weight, plastic state is that condition at which the soil can be remoulded to any shape
without any development of cracks. Semi-solid is the condition at which the soil can
remoulded but only with the development of cracks. Whereas, at solid state the soil cannot
be remoulded at all; if done the soil specimen would get broken.

Atterberg also identified three limiting water contents, in between the soil states, commonly
known as Atterberg’s limits.

Liquid Limit, LL

The liquid limit (WL or LL), is the water content at the point of transition of the clay sample
from a liquid state to a plastic state, whereby it acquires a certain small shearing strength.


Plastic Limit, PL
The plastic limit (WP or PL) is the minimum moisture content at which the soil can be
deformed plastically. It can be taken as the smallest water content at which the soil begins
to crumble when rolled out into thin threads, approximately 3 mm in diameter. That is at
plastic limit the soil must gain some minimum stiffness or strength.

Shrinkage Limit, SL

Similarly, the limiting water content between semi-soilid and soilid states is the shrinkage
limit, SL.

Void ratio, e

The ratio of volume of voids, Vv to the volume of solids, Vs in a given volume of material
usually expressed as a decimal is known as void ratio.

e (1.6)

Porosity, n

The ratio of volume of voids, Vv to the total volume Vt, expressed as either a decimal or a
percentage is known as poprosity.
n (1.7)

Unit density (or mass), þ

The ratio of mass per unit volume is known as unit density. The SI system gives units of
kg/m3 but a preferred usage unit is g/cm3. Often unit density is called “density”.

Degree of saturation, S

The ratio of volume of water, Vw to the volume of solid voids Vv, is known as deegree of
saturation. It is expressed as a percentage but used as a decimal.

S  100 (%) (1.8)


va Air va Air,Wa = 0

vv e Vv n vv
vw Water ww vw vw/w

vt vt 1.0 vt 1+e
wt 1=
Solid Vs Ws ws/wGs
ws 1.0 1-n

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 1.1 Block diagram showing: (a) weight/volume relationships for a soil mass; (b)
voulme/void relationships; and (c) volume expressed in terms of weight and specific

A saturated soil is obtained from beneath the ground water table may have a computed S
of between 90 and 100 percent.

1.3.1 Soil Volume and Density Relationships

(1) Relationship between void ratio, e and porosity, n:

It can be obtained from the block diagram of Fig. 1.1 (b) as follows:

Let, the volume of the solids Vs =1.0 (since values are symbolic anyway). This relation
gives directly that e = Vv from Eq. (1.6). Placing theses value on the left side of the block
diagram (as shown) gives the total volume directly as Vt = 1+e. Now using Eq. (1.7) we
Vv e
n  (1.9)
Vt 1 e

and solving Eq. (1.9) for e, we obtain

e (1.10)
1 n


(2) Relation between dry unit weight , dry and wet unit weight, wet

A useful expression for dry unit weight can be obtained similarly by making reference to the
block diagram of Fig. 1.1(a) (right side). By inspection, we have Wt =Ws + Ww (the air has
negligible weight). From Eq. (1.1), we have Ww = wWs (where w is in decimal form). Also,

 dry  w dry   wet

Which gives,
 wet
 dry  (1.11)
1 w

(3) Relation between void ratio, e interms of S, w, and Gs

A useful relation for the void ratio in terms of S, w, and Gs is obtained by using γw =1.0
g/cm3 as follows:

1. From Eq. (1.5) and referring to the block diagram of Fig. 1.1 (c), obtain

Gw 
Vw w

and because Gw=γw=1.0, the weight of water Ww (in grams) = WwγwGw =Vw (in cm3)

2. Let, Vs = 1.0 cm3 , and from Eq. (1.6) obtain Vv = eVs = e.

3. From Eq. (1.8) and using S as a decimal, obtain directly

Vw  SVv

Substitution of Ww for Vw from step 1 and Vv from step 2 gives

Ww  Se


4. From Eq. (1.5) obtain the weight of soil solids as

Ws  V s  w G s
Which for Vs = 1 cm3 gives Ws = Gs

5. From Eq. (1.1) for water content and using above step 3 for Ww and step 4 for Ws,

Ww Se
w 
Ws Gs

6. Solving step 5 for the void ratio e, we obtain

e Gs (1.12)
and when S = 1 (saturated soil), we have, e =wGs

4) Relationship btween dry unit weight, dry, water content, w and specific gravity, Gs

The dry unit weight, dry is often of particular interest. Let us obtained a relationship for it in
terms of water content, w and specific gravity of the soil solids Gs . From Fig 1.1 (c), the
volume of a given mass Vt = 1+e, and with e obtained from Eq. (1.12) we have,

Vt  1  Gs
Also, in any system of units the weight of the soil solids is

Ws  Vs wGs   wGs When Vs =1.0 as used here

The dry unit weight is

Ws  wGs
 dry   (1.13)
Vt 1 ( w / S )G s


And for S=100 percent
 wGs
 dry 
1  wG s

From Eq (1.11) the wet unit weight is

 wet   dry (1  w)
 w G s (1  w)
 wet  (1.14)
1  ( w / S )G s

1.4 Strength of Soils

In the earlier sections we have discussed about the index properties and engineering
properties. Considering engineering properties, strength is the most important property.
Coulomb (1773) was the first to publish about soil friction and earth pressures. He used it
for design of earth fortifications. Coulomb's law of shear strength of soil is as follows:

  c   tan  (1.15)

where, = shear strength; c= cohesion; = total compressive stress;  = angle of internal


It was as late as in 1920 that Terzaghi pointed out the limitations of Coulomb's law and the
importance of pore pressure in mobilizing friction in soils. He modified the above equation
(1.15) as follows: .

  c     u  tan    c     tan   (1.16)

where, c' = true cohesion; u= pore water pressure;  = effective pressure; ' = true friction.

The prime sign was used to indicate that they refer to values with respect to effective
stresses. This theory has been used since 1920 and is referred to as the Classical Theory
of strength of soils. Measurement of shear strength by the direct shear apparatus has been
in use for the past nearly 200 years.


The first triaxial compression machine to measure shear strength was constructed by
Casagrande in 1930 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The story of the
development of this machine since then to this day to increase its useful for routine tests
and research in soils is a fascinating story. Even though many advanced tests can be done
on a modern triaxial eompression machine, the routine tests conducted in most of the
laboratories using these machines are only the following.

 Unconfined compression test

 Unconsolited-undrained triaxial test (Quick or Q test)
 Consolidated undrained triaxial test (Consolidated quick or R test)
 Consolidated drained triaxial test (Slow or S test).

Details about the test procedures and interpreatation of test results are avaialble in soil
testing books.

Problem 1.1

A cohesive soil specimen was subjected to laboratory tests to obtain the following data:

The moisture content, w= 22.5%

Specific gravity, GS= 2.60

To determine the approximate unit weight, a sample weighning 224.0 g was placed in a
500 cm3 container with 382 cm3 of water required to fill the container.

Determine the following:

1. The unit weight, wet

2. The dry unit weight, dry
3. Void ratio, e and porosity, n
4. Degree of saturation, S
5. Dry bulk specific gravity



2.1 Introduction

Even though Bossinesq’s formulae to calculate the normal stress and shear stress were
published as early as in 1885, these could not be used for design of foundations, as
exceeding shear strength of soil at a local point cannot lead to the general failure of the
foundation. It was only after 1943, when Terzaghi published his well-known theoretical
methods to calculate the ultimate bearing capacity.

In general, foundations are classified as shallow or deep depending on the ratio of the
depth to width of the foundation. If the depth of the foundation is more than three-five times
its width (shorter dimension) it is called a deep foundation. Terzaghi dealt with the bearing
capacity of shallow foundations. Later research workers like Meyerhof modified Terzaghi's
theory for its application to deep foundations like pile foundations.

2.2 Definition of Bearing Capacity

Before discussing bearing capacity, the following definitions should be clarified.

2.2.1 Ultimate Bearing Capacity

Ultimate bearing capacity is the value of the loading intensity that the ground can support
just before total failure. Generally, the term denotes the gross ultimate bearing capacity.
Ultimate bearing capacity is generally represented by the symbol qult.

2.2.2 Net Ultimate Bearing Capacity

The net ultimate bearing capacity is the gross ultimate bearing capacity minus weight of
the soil above the foundation to which no factor of safety need to be assigned. Net
ultimate bearing capacity is generally represented by the symbol qnet.


2.2.3 Safe Bearing Capacity

Safe bearing capacity is the net ultimate bearing capacity divided by the factor of safety
plus the surcharge Df, where  is the unit weight of soil and Df is the depth of foundation.
This is generally represented by the symbol qsafe.

2.2.4 Safe Settlement Pressure

Soil pressure for settlement is the value of the net pressure that can be applied on the
foundation for a specified settlement; say 25 mm or 40 mm as may be prescribed by the

2.2.5 Allowable Bearing Pressure

Allowable soil pressure or allowable bearing pressure is the maximum loading intensity at
which the soil will not fail in shear, with the specified factor of safety and also will not
undergo more than the specified maximum allowable settlement.

2.2.6 Bearing Capacity Faliure Patterns

The three principal modes of shear failure under foundation have been described as:

1. General shear failure

Well defined slip lines are assumed to extend from the edge of the footing to the adjacent
ground surface. This type of failure is characteristic of narrow surface footing or of shallow
depth resting on stronger, denser soils which are relatively incompressible. This type of
failure is described in Fig. 2.1(a).

2. Local shear failure

It is an intermediate failure characterized by well defined slip lines immediately below the
footing but extending only a short distance into the soil mass. This type of failure is
presented in Fig. 2.1 (b).


3. Punching shear failure

On soils of high compressibility, punching shear failure occurs. There is vertical shear
around the footing perimeter and compression of soil immediately under the footing with
soil on the sides of the footing remaining practically uninvolved. This type of failure is
presented in Fig. 2.1 (c).




Fig. 2.1 Nature of bearing capacity failures in soil: (a) general shear failure; (b) local shear
failure; (c) punching shear failure (redrawn after Vesic, 1973).


2.3 Terzaghi’s Bearing Capacity Equation and Its Limitations

Terzaghi (1943) was the first to present a comprehensive theory for the evaluation of the
ultimate bearing capacity of rough shallow foundations. According to this theory, a
foundation is shallow if the depth, Df of the foundation is less than or equal to the width of
the foundation. Later investigators, however, have suggested that foundations with Df
equal to 3-5 times the width of the foundation may be defined as shallow foundations.

Terzaghi suggested that for a continuous, or strip, foundation (that is the width-to-length
ratio of the foundation approaches zero), the failure surface in soil at ultimate load may be
assumed to be similar to that shown in Figure 2.1. (Note that this is the case of general
shear failure as defined in Figure: 2.1 (a). The effect of soil above the bottom of the
foundation may also be assumed to be replaced by an equivalent surcharge, q = Df
(where = unit weight of soil). The failure zone under the foundation can be separated into
three parts (Figure 2.1).

1. The triangular zone ACD immediately under the foundation.

2. The radial shear zones ADF and CDE, with the curve DE and DF being arcs of a
logarithmic spiral.
3. Two triangular Rankine passive zones AFH and CEG.

The angles CAD and ACD are assumed to be equal to the soil friction angle, . Note that,
with the replacement of the soil above the bottom of the foundation by an equivalent
surcharge q (= Df), the shear resistance of the soil along the failure surfaces GI and HJ
was neglected.

Fig. 2.2 Bearing capacity failure in soil under a rough rigid continuous footing (soil unit
weight= ; coheion= c and friction angle= ).


Using the equilibrium analysis. Terzaghi expressed the ultimate bearing capacity for Strip
Foundation in the form described in Eqn. (2.1).
qu  cN c  qN q  BN  (2.1)
c = cohesion of soil
 = unit weight of soil
q =  Df

Nc, Nq, N = bearing capacity factors that are non dimensional and are only functions of the
soil friction angle, .

The bearing capacity factors, Nc, Nq, and N are defined by

 
 e 2 (3 / 4 / 2) tan  
N c  cot    1  cot  ( N q  1) (2.2)
 2  
 2 cos  4  2  
 
e 2( 3 / 4 / 2 ) tan 
Nq  (2.3)
 
2 cos 2  45  
 2

1  K p 
N    1 tan  (2.4)
2  cos  

Kp  = passive pressure coefficient

The variations of the bearing capacity factors defined by Eqs. (2.2), (2.3) and (2.4) are
given in Table 2.1. Bearing capacity factors for practical use can aslo be obtained from
plots of these values against SPT values as shown in Fig. 2.3.

For estimating the ultimate bearing capacity of square or circular foundations, Eq. (2.1)
may be modified to

Square Foundation

qu  1.3cN c  qN q  0.4BN (2.5)

Table 2.1 Terzaghi’s Bearing capacity factors  Eqs. (2.2), (2.3) and (2.4)

 Nc Nq Nqa  Nc Nq Nqa
0 5.70 1.00 0.00 26 27.09 14.21 9.84
1 6.00 1.10 0.01 27 29.24 15.90 11.60
2 6.30 1.22 0.04 28 31.61 17.81 13.70
3 6.62 1.35 0.06 29 34.24 19.98 16.18
4 6.97 1.49 0.10 30 37.16 22.46 19.13
5 7.34 1.64 0.14 31 40.41 25.28 22.65
6 7.73 1.81 0.20 32 44.04 28.52 26.87
7 8.15 2.00 0.27 33 48.09 32.23 31.94
8 8.60 2.21 0.35 34 52.64 36.50 38.04
9 9.09 2.44 0.44 35 57.75 41.44 45.41
10 9.61 2.69 0.56 36 63.53 47.16 54.36
11 10.16 2.98 0.65 37 70.01 53.80 65.27
12 10.76 3.29 0.85 38 77.50 61.55 78.61
13 11.41 3.63 1.04 39 85.97 70.61 95.03
14 12.11 4.02 1.26 40 95.66 81.27 115.31
15 12.86 4.45 1.52 41 106.81 93.85 140.51
16 13.68 4.92 1.82 42 119.67 108.75 171.99
17 14.60 5.45 2.18 43 134.58 126.50 211.57
18 15.12 6.04 2.59 44 151.95 147.74 261.60
19 16.56 6.60 3.07 45 172.28 173.28 325.34
20 17.69 7.44 3.64 46 196.22 204.19 407.11
21 18.92 8.26 4.31 47 224.55 241.80 512.84
22 20.27 9.19 5.09 48 258.28 287.85 650.67
23 21.75 10.23 6.00 49 298.71 344.63 831.99
24 23.36 11.40 7.08 50 247.50 415.14 1072.80
25 25.13 12.72 8.34
From Kumbhojkar (1993)

Fig. 2.3 Values of , Nc, N and Nq from SPT (N) values in cohesionless soils (after Peck,
Hansen and Thornburn).


Circular Foundation

qu  1.3cN c  qN q  0.3BN (2.6)

In Eq. (2.5), B equals the dimension of each side of the foundation; in Eq. (2.6), B equals
the diameter of the foundation.

For foundations that exhibit the local shear failure mode in soils, Terzaghi suggested
modifications to Eqs. (2.1), (2.5), and (2.6) as follows:

(1) For Strip Foundation

2 1
qu  cN c  qN q  BN  (2.7)
3 2

(2) For Square Foundation

qu  0.867cN c  qN q  0.4BN  (2.8)

(3) For Circular Foundation

qu  0.867cN c  qN q  0.3BN  (2.9)

Nc, Nq and N are the modified bearing capacity factors. They can be calculated by using
the bearing capacity factor equations (for Nc, Nq and N) by replacing  by ’ = tan-1 (2/3 tan

Terzaghi’s analysis makes the following assumptions:

1. The footing is strip at shallow depth and has a rough base.

2. The soil is homogenious, isotropic, and relatively incompressible.
3. The failure zones do not extend above the footing. The shearing resistance of soil
above the base level as well as friction between soil and sides of the footing are


Terzaghi's bearing capacity equations have now been modified to take into account the
effects of the foundation shape (B/L), depth of embedment (Df), and the load inclination.
Many design engineers, however, still use Terzaghi’s equation, which provides fairly good
results considering the uncertainty of the soil conditions at various sites.

The values of Tarzaghi’s bearing capacity factors for practical use can also be obtained
from plot of these values against SPT values as presented by Peck, Hanson and

2.4 Major Factors Affecting Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundation

Following are the main factors that affect the bearing capacity of shallow foundation:
1. Size of the foundation
2. Shape of the foundation
3. Depth of foundation
4. Inclination of the load
5. Inclination of the foundation base
6. Inclination of the ground
7. Postion of ground water table

2.4.1 Effect of Water Table on Ultimate Bearing Capacity

Three conditions may occur for water table:

1) Case I

If water table is located so that 0 ≤ D1 ≤ Df, the factor q in the bearing capacity equations
takes the form
Q = effective surcharge = D1  D2  sat   w  (2.10)

= unit weight of soil
 sat = saturated unit weight of soil
 w = unit weight of water
Also, the value of γ in the last term of the equations has to be repeated by γ′ =  sat   w .


Case I

Df D2

Case II

sat= saturated unit weight

Fig. 2.4 Effect of ground water table on bearing capacity equation.

Case II

For a water table is located so that 0 ≤ d ≤ B,

q  D f (2.11)

The factor γ in the last term of the bearing capacity equations must be replaced by the

   
    (2.12)
The preceding modifications are based on the assumption that there is no seepage force in
the soil.

Case III

When the water table is located so that d ≥ B, the water will have no effect on the ultimate
bearing capacity.

2.5 Factor of Safety

Calculating the gross allowable load bearing capacity of shallow foundations requires
application of a factor of safety (FS) to the gross ultimate bearing capacity, or
q all  (2.13)


However, some practicing engineers prefer to use a factor of safety of

Net ultimate bearing capacity

Net stress increases on soil  (2.14)

The net ultimate bearing capacity is defined as the ultimate pressure per unit area of the
foundation that can be supported by the soil in excess of the pressure caused by the
surrounding soil at the foundation level. If the difference between the unit weight of the
concrete used in the foundation and the unit weight of the soil surrounding is assumed to
be negligible.

qnet ( u )  qu  q (2.15)

where, qnet(u) = net ultimate bearing capacity

q= Df
qu  q
qall ( net )  (2.16)

The factor of safety as define by Eq. (2.16) may be at least 3 in all cases.

Another type of factor of safety for the bearing capacity of shallow foundations is often
used. It is the factor of safety with respect to shear failure (FSshear). In most cases a value
of FSshear = 1.4 -1.6 is desirable along with a minimum factor of safety of 3-4 against gross
or net ultimate bearing capacity. The following procedure should be used to calculate the
net allowable load for given FSshear.

1. Let c and  be the cohesion and the angle of friction, respectively of soil and let FSshear
be the require factor of safety with respect to shair failure. So, development cohesion
and the angle of friction are:

cd  (2.17)
FS shear

 tan  
d  tan 1   (2.18)
 FS shear 


2. The gross allowable bearing capacity can now be calculate according to Eq. (2.1),
(2.5), (2.6), with cd and d as the shear strength parameters of the soil. For example,
the gross allowable bearing capacity of a continuous foundation according to
Terzaghi’s equation is
qall  cd N c  qN q  BN (2.19)
where, Nc, Nq, Nγ =bearing capacity factor for the friction angle, d

3. The net allowable bearing capacity in thus

qall ( net )  qall  q  cd N c  q( N q  1)  BN (2.20)

Irrespective of the procedure by which the factor of safety is applied, the magnitude of FS
should depend on the uncertainties and risks involved for the condition encountered.

2.6 Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundation in Clays

For a continuous footing in clay, the net ultimate bearing capacity may be expressed in
terms of qu, the unconfined compression strength given by Eq. (2.21),is as follows:

qnet  5.7c  2.85qu (2.21)

Using a factor of safety of 3 (least value needed for clays) for a strip foundation, we get the

qnet / FS   0.9qu  qu
qsafe  qu  D f (approx) (2.22)

Thus we arrive at the simple thumb rule that safe bearing capacity of a shallow strip
foundation in clay is approximately equal to the unconfined strength of the clay plus the
overburden pressure. We can also relate it to SPT values. For square or circular footing,
from Eq. (2. 5) and (2.6),

qsafe  1.3qu  D f (2.22)


Skemption’s Equation for Bearing Capacity in Clays

The general expression for the ultimate bearing capacity of a strip footing in clay derived
from Eq. (2.1) and as given by Skemption is:
qult  cN c

c= average cohesion for a depth equal to two-third the width of the footing
Nc= bearing capacity factor which varies with Df/B ratio and B/L ratios as shown in Fig. 2.5

In 1951, the following modifications were suggested by Skempton for a rectangle B×L to
incorporate Meyerhof’s theory for strength of overburden pressure:

When Df/B < 2.5, N c  51  0.2 B / L 1  0.2 D / B   9 (2.23)

When Df/B ≥ 2.5, N c  7.51  0.2 B / L  (2.24)

Accordingly, for a square or round foundation with Df/B ratio greater than 2.5 (i.e. for deep
foundations), Nc= 7.5× 1.2 = 9, as shown in Fig 2.5.

Fig. 2.5 Skempton’s values for bearing capacity factor Nc for cohesive soils varying with
depth/breadth ratios.


2.7 Bearing Capacity of Shallow Foundation in Sands

In 1974, Peck, Hansen and Thornburn gave a set of curves which can be used for design
footings from SPT values in cohesionless soils for a maximum settlement of 25 mm. From
these curves, it is observed that for Df/B0.5 for breadth of footing equal to or more than 1
m, the allowable bearing pressure is controlled by settlement. For a maximum alloawable
settlement of 25 mm in footings and for width greater than 1.0 m and Df/B0.5, we have the

q (allowable)= 10.5 N (kN/m2)= 1.05 (t/m2) (approx.)

Thus we obtain a simple rule that a rough approximate allowable bearing capacity in
ton/sqm equal to N, the SPT N value, for allowable settlement.

Fig. 2.6 Allowable bearing pressures for footings in granular soils based on SPT values. It
is taken as the value for an allowable settlement 25 mm for large widths with a factor of
safety of 2 against shear failure for small widths [Peck, Hansen and Thorburn].



3.1 Introduction

A foundation is an integral part of the structure. It is the customary practice to regard the
foundation as shallow if the depth of the foundation is less than or equal to the width of the
foundation. This with this ratio greater than 5 are considered as deep foundation. In the
case of deep foundation the depth-width ratio are more than unity. Typicla shallow
foundation is shown in Fig. 3.1.

Ground Surface




Fig. 3.1 Definition of shallow foundation.

3.2 Types of Shallow Foundations

A footing is an enlargement of the base of a column or wall for the purpose of transmitting
the load to the subsoil at a pressure suited to the properties of the soil. A footing that
supports a single column is known as in individual column footing, an isolated footing or a
spread footing. The footing beneath a wall is known as a wall footing or a continuous
footing. If a footing supports several columns, it is called a combined footing. A particular
form of combined footing commonly used if one of the columns supports an exterior wall is
a cantilever footing. The various types of footing are illustrated in Fig. 3.2.

3.3 Design Considerations

The stability of a structure depends upon the stability of supporting soil. The two important
factors that are to be considered in this chapter are
1. The foundation must be stable against shear failure of the supporting soil.
2. The foundation must not settle beyond tolerable limits to damage the structure.


The other factors that require consideration are the location and depth of foundation. In
deciding the location and depth one has to consider the local erosions due to flowing
water, underground defects such as root holes, cavities etc., unconsolidated filled up soil,
ground water level, presence of expansive soils etc.

(a) (b)



Fig. 3.2 Different types of shallow foundations: (a) individual column footing; (b) wall
footing; (c) combined footing (square); (d) combined footing (trapezoidal) and (e) cantilever


3.4 Depth of Footings

The minimum depth of foundations are described in codes such as prescribed by IS 1904
is 0.5 m. In clayey soils and especially in case of expansive clays, the depth should be
below a level where there is no variation of moisture with change of seasons. As the
external walls have to act as a protection against insects and rodents, the depth should be
sufficient so as to prevent their access through burrows made under the foundation.
Generally, a minimum depth of 1.0 m is adopted for foundations. In general, even though in
sandy soils and silty clays the depth can be 0.5 to 0.7 m in clay soils, where the variation of
moisture content causes shrinkage, the depth should vary from 1.5 to 3 m depending on
the region. Some structural factors that influence the depth of foundations are discussed in
the following sections.

(1) Depth between adjacent footings of new constructions

In general, the load can be assumed to spread into the soil from the edge of footing at 30°
to the horizontal in soil and 60° in rock. (Some take this distribution as 1 vertical to 2
horizontal or 26.6° to 30° to the horizontal in clay and 1 to 1.2 or 40° to 45° in sand). For
estimation of stresses for calculating the settlement of piles, we assume 2 vertical to 1
horizontal. The following rules are to be followed when laying out foundations:

1. When the ground surface slopes downward adjacent to a footing, the sloping surface
should not cut the line of distribution of the load (2 horizontal to 1 vertical) as shown in
Fig. 3.3.

2. In granular, soils, the line joining the lower adjacent edges of the upper and lower
footings shall not have a slope steeper than two horizontal to one vertical (Fig. 3.4).

3. In clayey soil, the line joining the lower adjacent edge of the upper footing and the
upper adjacent edge of the lower footing should not be steeper than 2 horizontal to 1

(2) Constructing a new footing near the footing of an old building

A footing significantly affects the stresses to a depth equal to twice its width. In order to
avoid damage to the existing structure, the areas of stress distribution should not
significantly interfere with each other. Accordingly, we should adhere to the following rules:



30 to 45



Fig. 3.3 Action of footing near slopes.

Upper footing


B 2
Footings in clay
in sand

Fig. 3.4 Rules for location of adjacent footings at different levels.

1. Minimum horizontal distance between the two footings should not be less than the
width of the larger footings to avoid damage to the existing structure.

2. If the distance is limited, the principle of 2 horizontal to 1 vertical dispersion should be

used so that the foundation of the old building is not very much affected by the new

In any case, extreme care should be taken for supporting the sides of the excavations if the
new footings have to go deeper than the old foundation.


(3) Footings on surface rocks and sloping rock faces

In places where solid rock is available near the ground level (less than 90 cm in depth), the
rock should be chipped and the concrete of the foundation should be properly keyed into
the rock. In places where the rock surface is on a shallow slope, it is advisable to provide
dowel rods 16 mm dia dowelled to a minimum depth of 225 mm at a spacing of not more
than 1 metre and adequately grouted. In such places, we can also bench the rock surface
to provide a better key to the foundation.

3.5 Foundation Loadings and Selection of Foundations

In selecting the type of foundation, one has to consider the functions of the structure and
the load it has to carry, the subsurface condition of the soil, and the cost of the

The design loads also play an important part in the selection of the type of foundation. The
various loads that are likely to be considered are:

(i) Dead loads,

(ii) Live loads,
(iii) Wind and earthquake forces,
(iv) Lateral pressure exerted by the foundation earth on the embedded structural
elements, and
(v) The effect of dynamic load.

In addition to the above loads, the loads that are due to the subsoil conditions are also
required to be considered. They are:

(i) Lateral or uplift forces on the foundation elements due to high water table,
(ii) Swelling pressure on the foundations in the expansive soils,
(iii) Heave pressure on the foundations in areas subjected to frost heave, and
(iv) Negative frictional drag on piles where pile foundations are used in highly
compressible soils.


In mulistorey buildings the design load for foundations should be the same as used for
structural design of columns for example as described in IS 875 (Part 2) 1987 on loads and
buildings and BS 6399 recommended desin to be made for full dead load together with the
reduced live load.

3.6 Design of Footings

Design of footings are illustrated in the following examples.

Example 3.1

A square foundation is 5 ft × 5 ft in plan. The soil supporting the foundation has a friction
angle of = 20° and c = 320 lb/ft2.The unit weight of soil γ, is 115 lb/ft2. Determine the
allowable gross load on the foundation with a factor of safety (FS) of 4. Assume that the
depth of the foundation (Df) is 3 ft and that general shear occurs in the soil.

From Eq. (2.5)

qu  1.3cN c  qN q  0.4BN

From Table 2.1 for  = 20°

Nc = 17.69
Nq = 7.44
Nγ= 3.64

qu  1.332017.69  3  1157.44  0.411553.64

=7359 + 2567+837 = 10763 lb/ft2

So, the allowable load per unit area of the foundation is

q u 10763 2
q all    2691 lb/ft
FS 4

Thus the total allowable gross load is

Q = (2691)B2 = (2691)(5×5) =67275 lb


Example: 3.2

Estimate the size of a square footing of a column carrying a load of 1500 kN in a sand
deposit with average N value of 15. Assume an allowable settlement of 25 mm and depth
of foundation 2 m. Water level is also at foundation level and unit weight of soil is 18


Limiting settlement to 25 mm from emperical curves of Fig. 2.6 for N= 15, qsafe= 170 kN/m2
Load= 1500 kN
Size of footing= (1500/170)1/2 = 2.97 m say 3 m
Size of footing 3 m X 3 m.

Problem 3.1

A square foundation (B×B) has to be constructed. Assume that γ = 105 lb/ft3, γsat = 118
lb/ft3, Df =4 ft, and depth of water table, D1 =2 ft. The gross allowable load, Qall, with FS = 3
is 150,000 lb. The field standard penetration resistance Nf, values are follows. Determine
the size of the footing.

Depth (ft) Nf (blow/ft)

5 4
10 6
15 6
20 10
25 5
5 4



4.1 Introduction

A raft or mat foundation is a combined footing that covers the entire area beneath a
structure and supports all the walls and columns. Wherever the building load are so heavy
or the allowable soils pressure so small that individual footings would cover more than
about half the building area, a raft foundation is likely to be more economical than footings.

Rafts are used under the following condition:

1. In structures like chimneys, silos, cooling towers, building with basements where
continuous water proofing is needed and in floating foundations where a rigid structure
is needed to reduce settlements.
2. Where differential settlements in structure are to be reduced. As observed by Terzaghi
and Peck, the differential settlement in rafts is only one half that footings of the same
intensity of loading due to the random distribution of compressible zones and also due
to stiffening effect of the raft and building frame. Due to continuity and negative
moments the bending moments produced in rafts tend to be less. Thus an allowable
maximum settlement of 50 mm is usually specified for rafts, whereas for footings only
25 mm is specified for the same allowable differential settlement of 18 mm (3/4 inch)
for both cases.
3. Mats are specified to bridge over pockets of weak spots in moderately weak soil.
4. In situations where individual footings may touch or overlap each other and it is
advisable to excavate the full site instead of the ground under individual footings. (In
such situations, careful analysis should be made as to whether individual footings or
rafts are more economical. In general, where settlements expected are small, individual
strips and footings tend to be cheaper than rafts, which will much more steel to carry
increased shear and bending moments due to continuity).
5. It is very important that when we adopt a raft foundation we should carefully check
whether there are any weak spots below the foundation. As the influence of the
foundation is felt to a depth 1 to 2 times it’s below it, we must be aware that the bulb of
pressure of wide rafts extends to deeper layers than in footings. In situations where
there are soft deposits below hard layers, individual footings should be preferred over


6. It is also a usual practice these days to use mat foundation over piles to reduce
settlements. For this purpose only part of the load is taken by piles. These are called
piled rafts.

4.2 Types of Rafts and Their Use

Several types of mat foundations are used currently. Some of the common types are
shown schematically in Figure 4.1 and include:

1. Flat plate (Fig. 4.1a). The mat is of uniform thickness.

2. Flat plate thickened under columns (Fig. 4.1b).
3. Beams and slab (Fig. 4.1c). The beams run both ways and the columns are located at
the intersection of the beams.
4. Slab with basement walls as a part of the mat (Figure 4.1d). The walls act as stiffeners
for the mat.

Mats may be supported by piles. The piles help in reducing the settlement of a structure
built over highly compressible soil. Where the water table is high, mats are often placed
over piles to control buoyancy.

4.3 Stiffness or Rigidity of Soil Structure System

The performance of a raft depends on the relative rigidity of its three components namely
the superstructure, raft and soil. We should have a clear idea of the meaning of 'rigidity' of
these components since the distribution of contact pressures depends on the relative
rigidity of the foundation with respect to the soil. Structures like a silo, chimney or a multi-
storeyed concrete framed structure are rigid. On the other hand, a structural system
supporting a gantry girder is flexible (Fig. 4.2). It is very important that we should match the
rigidity of the foundation with that of the superstructure. The following are the possible
1. Rigid superstructure with rigid foundation: As rigid superstructure does not allow
differential settlement this is a good match.
2. Rigid superstructure with flexible foundation: As flexible foundation can produce large
deflections, this is not a good match.


3. Flexible superstructure with rigid foundation: This is acceptable but may not be
4. Flexible superstructure with flexible foundation: This is also acceptable.

(a) (b)

(c) (d)

Fig. 4.1 Different types of raft foundations: (a) plat flate; (b) flat plate thickened under column;
(c) beams and slab (slab with basement wall); and (d) slab with basement wall.



Raft Raft

(a) (b)

Fig. 4.2 Example of rigid and flexible superstructure: (a) chimney; (b) gantry.

There are many case histories where mismatching of foundation and superstructure has
led to failures. For example, a rigid silo supported on large size columns on a flexible
foundation can crack badly due to mismatch, as the differential settlement in the flexible
raft cannot be tolerated by the rigid columns. This will lead to excessive cracking of the
columns. There are also many cases of failure of steel oil tanks installed on rigid concrete
rafts on soft soils due to mismatch with the foundation.

4.4 Allowable Soil Pressure for Rafts in Cohesive Soils

4.4.1 Allowable pressure based on settlement

The design of rafts in clays based on settlement is by no means a routine procedure.

Designs in clay cannot be based on calculation of stresses only but should be based on
settlement forecast and the estimated maximum curvature to which the raft will be
subjected to. The selection of the thickness of the slab and the amount of reinforcements
to be used should be carefully made so that the raft does not crack up during the
deformations due to settlement. The curvature in which the slab will bend consequent to
settlement as well as the bending moment produced can be estimated with reference to
Fig. 4.3.

Let  be the deflection in a beam of length L bent in radius R. Then,

(2R - ) = L2/4 (where L = total span)


Assuming that  is small,

L2 1 8
2 R  or  2
4 R L

As in bending,
M E f El 8EI
  ,M   2
I R y R L
The stress (f) is as follows:
M  8EI  t 
f    , where t = thickness
Z  L2  2 I 
4 Et Et
f  2
 as   L2 / 8 R (4.1)
L 2R

We should note that if the settlement is of the same order as the thickness of the plate, the
thin plate theory will not be adequate. In the classical theory of bending of plates, plates
are divided into four groups:
(i) Thin plate with small deflection;
(ii) Thin plates with large deflections;
(iii) Membranes; and
(iv) Thick plates.

In large deflection of thin plates (deflection more than half of its thickness) appreciable
tensile stresses due to membrane action will be present in the plate. This can cause
extensive cracking in concrete.

4.4.2 Allowable pressures based on strength in cohesive soils

As there is no contribution from the friction component of the soil, the safe bearing can be
calculated for cohesive soils as follows:

qult  cN c  qN q and (N= 0) (4.2)

If Df/B ratios are large, we can apply Skempton's value for Nc as shown in Fig. 2.5 and Eq.
(2.24) of Chapter 2. (Normally, Df/B of raft foundation is not very large as in the case of



Fig. 4.3 Settlement and stresses in raft foundations.

pile foundations where we can assume Nc = 9). As Nq = 1 for clays and qNq is the
overburden pressure, which is a positive quantity that does not require a factor of safety to
be applied, the safe load qb can be also calculated from the following equation:

cN c
FS  (4.3)
qb  D f
where, qb is the gross load to be applied on the foundation.

The following points need special mention:

(i) According to Eqn. (4.3), the factor of safety is very large for rafts established at such
depth that Df is nearly equal to qb. When these terms are equal the raft is said to be a fully
compensated foundation. The theoretical factor of safety against failure of the sub soil
under this circumstance is infinite.

(ii) In the case of rafts on weak soils, the dead load and the probable live loads should be
very accurately estimated as the total loads have a great influence on a weak soil as
compared to soils with good bearing capacity.

(iii) For practical purposes, it is more pertinent to assume that the allowable bearing
capacity in rafts in clay soil is the same as for footings and then give correction for Df/B the
depth ratio.


4.5 Allowable Soil Pressure for Rafts in Cohesionless Soils

The following are some of the considerations in the selection of allowable soil pressures in
cohesionless soils. The denseness of a sand deposit is reflected by the SPT value. N = 15
corresponds to the critical void ratio so that SPT value range 10 to 30 corresponds to
medium dense sand. A value below 10 indicates that the sand is loose.

The settlement of footings in sand as related to SPT (N) value is discussed is valid for rafts
also. Because of the large size of rafts, the bearing capacity against shear failure in
unyielding sand is very large. Hence, bearing capacity will be decided on allowable
settlement. Terzaghi has shown from field observations that in sands, the differential
settlement of rafts is only one half of that of a footing foundation for the same pressure. We
have seen that if a set of footings in a building is designed for a maximum settlement of the
footing of 25 mm (one inch) the differential settlement will be 18 mm (3/4 inch). Hence, if
we design a raft for 25 mm the differential settlement will be only 9 mm only. The maximum
settlement of a raft and a large footing will be the same as can be seen from Fig. 2.6.
Hence, larger pressures of the order of twice that are assigned for footings are allowed for
rafts in sands for the same differential settlement. Experience in the field has also
confirmed the validity of this assumption. Accordingly, we can assume the following
empirical rule for safe bearing capacity of rafts in sands.

Assuming Terzaghi's expression for bearing capacities and settlements based on SPT
values, we get the following expressions for allowable pressures for rafts in sands in kN/m2
for a given value of settlement. (Note: These settlement rules are not applicable to clays.)

1. For B> 4 m and for settlement of 1 mm, we get the allowable pressure for footings as:

q1 = 0.42 NRqRd (kN/m2) (4.4)

The pressure for any given settlement can be worked out. For example, if 50 mm
settlement is specified, then

q50 = 21NRqRd (kN/m2) (4.5)

2. Based on shear failure and assuming FS = 3, the safe bearing capacity will be as


q safe 

6(100  N 2 ) D f Rq  2 N 2 BR y  (4.6)

Here, Rq, R, Rd are the correction factors for water level, for unit weight and for depth of
foundation, respectively. The value of the depth Df should not be more than 4 m.

The following points need special mention:

(i) Same correction factors for depth of ground water table and depth of foundation for
shallow foundation can be applied fo raft foundation.
(ii) If SPT value (after correction) is 5 or less than 5, than the sand will be loose and needs
consolidation. Special care should be taken when constructing in such sites.
(iii) Load on the foundation is equal to the sum of dead load and live load.

Net pressure (qnet) in excess of the pressure at base in an excavated raft bed of depth Df is
given by:

q net   D f (4.7)
where, W = total load
A = area of raft
Df = depth of foundation
= unit weight of soil

The following thumb rule can also be used in practice. For allowable bearing pressure in
sands with reference to settlement. For differential settlement of 18 mm safe bearing
capacity in kN/m2 is as follows:

For footings = 10.5N ( = 25 mm and  = 18 mm)

For rafts = 21.0N ( = 50 mm and  = 18 mm) (4.8)

Where,  = settlement and  = differential settlement


4.6 Illustrative Examples

Example: 4.1

Determine the safe bearing capacity of a raft in sand of unit weight 20 kN/m3 with an
average corrected SPT value of 18. Assume the depth of the foundation is 1.5 m and the
breadth is 6 m. A maximum settlement of 40 mm can be allowed for the raft. Assume water
level is at 3 m below ground level.


Step 1: Safe bearing pressure

Method 1: Using bearing capacity formula

For settlement of 1 mm = q1 = 0.42 N

Hence for 40mm, q40 = 0.42*40*18 =320 kN/m2

From shear failure (FS = 3)

qsafe 

6100  N 2 DRq  2 N 2 BRr 
 z  1.5 
Rq = 1 and R  0.51   = 0 .51    0.625
 B  6 

qsafe 
 
6100  18 2   1.5  2  18 2  6  0.625  347 kN/m2

Method 2: From chart for bearing capacity for footings

Find bearing capacity for footing for 25 mm settlement

Df 1.5
  0.25
B 6

For N= 18, Settlement = 25 mm

Allowable pressure= 200 kN/m2
For 40 mm settlement for footing


 40  200  40
q 40  q 25     320 kN/m2
 25  25

Step 2: Recommendations

Allowable, qa = 320 kN/m2

Expected settlement = 40mm
Expected differential settlement = ½ that of footing
1 18  40
   14.4 mm (Ans)
2 25

Example 4.2

Estimate the allowable bearing capacity of a 12 m x 16 m raft in clay, the loading on the
raft due to dead and live loads being 50 kN/m2. The raft is located at 1.5 m below G.L. and
the depth of clay extends to a depth of 16 m below the foundation; the material below that
depth being dense sand. The average SPT value of the clay is 6 m and the ground water
level is at the level of the foundation. Assuming unit weight of soil as 18 kN/m3 and that
cc/(1+e0) =0.03, estimate the safe bearing capacity and the expected settlement of the raft.


Step 1: Estimate net loading on the raft

Net load = Gross load – Df

= 50 – (18*1.5) = 23 kN/m2

Step 2: Estimate safe bearing capacity from N value

By thumb rule, the safe bearing capacity in tons/sqft = SPT value

qsafe = 10N = 10* 6 = 60 kN/m2

Step 3: Calculate safe bearing capacity by formulae

qult = cNc + Df (Skempton’s formula)


Nc = 5(1+0.2B/L)(1+0.2Df/B)

= 5(1+0.214/18)(1+0.215/14) = 5.8

Assuming unconfined compressive strength = N/10 = 0.6 kg/cm2 = qu

Cohesion, c= 60/2= 30 kN/m2

Net qult = cNc = 30 * 5.8 = 174 kN/m2

qsafe = qult/3 = 174/3 = 58 kN/m2

Step 4: Estimate the expected total settlement

Cc p  p
 H log 0
1  e0 p0

P0 at mid depth (8 m below foundation):

P0 = (18 * 1.5) + (18 - 10) 8 = 91 kN/m2

∆p at mid, depth with 1:2 dispersion (q = 23 kN/m2)

23 * 12 *16
∆p   9.2 kN/m2
12  816  8
 91  9.2 
The expected total settlement,   0.03 * 16 * log 1000  45 mm (Ans)
 91 

[Note: The details of the settement calculation are available in other modules].



5.1 Introduction

Piles are structural members used to transmit surface loads to deeper layers. This chapter
is devoted to the theoretical estimation of the ultimate capacity of piles from properties of
the soil strata where the piles are installed. However, field loading tests should be always
carried out whenever possible especially in large projects to check theoretical values
against actual field capacities. These foundations are classified as deep foundations and
are used for one or more of the following purposes:

1. To carry loads which are too heavy to be supported by a shallow foundation. The loads
are to be transferred to deeper, stronger and less compressible strata or over a larger
depth of the foundation soil as in foundations of tall buildings.
2. To carry part of the load to deeper soil for reducing the settlement as in piled raft
3. To carry horizontal loads as in bridge abutments or retaining walls and also to increase
the stability of tall buildings. Inclined piles are also used to carry inclined loads with
horizontal force components.
4. To withstand uplift forces in foundations as in expansive soils and floating foundations.
5. To avoid loss of support by scour as in bridges.
6. To produce large differential settlement in situations where are large variations of
column loads.
7. To compact foundation material such as loose sands.

5.2 Types of Piles

Concrete piles are most commonly used in many countries such as India while steel piles
are popular in the U.S.A. Concrete piles are commonly classified on the basis of various
criteria as follows.


Piles may be classified on the basis of their size (diameter). Piles larger than 600 mm in
diameter are called large diameter piles. In India, piles larger than one meter in diameter
are commonly used for bridges. Sizes 300 to 600 mm are called normal or small diameter
piles. Piles of 150 to 250 mm in diameter are called mini piles while those below 150 mm
diameter are classified as micro piles.

On the basis of the method of installation, piles can also classified as driven cast in-situ,
bored cast in-situ, precast driven or as precast piles driven in pre-bored holes.

Piles are classified as follows depending on their action (that is, the purpose they are
intended to serve).

 Displacement piles (driven piles)

 Non-displacement piles (bored piles)
 Small displacement piles (driven steel H piles)

5.3 Factors Affecting Choice of Type of Piles

The final choice of the type of pile for any job is dictated by the subsurface conditions, the
driving characteristics of the piles, the probable performance of the foundations, and also
by economy. Economic comparisons should be based on the cost of the entire foundation
instead of on the cost of piles alone. For example, the cost of twelve 20-ton wood piles
might be less than that of four 60-ton concrete files, but the larger pile cap required to
transfer the column load to the wood piles might increase the sot of the wood-pile
foundation above that of the concreted-pile foundation.

The following are some of the important factors that affect the choice between precast
driven, driven cast in-situ, and bored cast in-situ piles:

1. Disturbance of nearby old structures. Vibrations are caused during pile driving.
2. Ground heave and pile heave.
3. Sensitivity of soil strata. If soil is sensitive, it breaks up during pile driving.
4. Length and size of pile. Precast RC driven piles are small in size and are usually of
length up to 16 m and size less than 550 mm. Bored piles can be taken very deep
provided they are reasonably large. They can also be of large diameters.


5. Ground surface condition before operations. For any pile driving operation, the
equipment should be able to move freely to and fro at the site.
6. Ground surface condition after piling. The finishing level of bored cast in-place piles
can be easily controlled even below ground level. With precast driven piles (with
varying depth of driving) piles will be projecting above the ground after the set is
7. Time taken for piling. This is a very important factor in many projects. Driven precast
and cast in-situ piles, if properly organised, can be more quickly executed than bored
cast in-place piles. However, if ground heave is expected, driven cast in-place piles will
pose problems involving the integrity of the pile.
8. Loss of ground and over-break. With sandy fills and very soft silty clay layers, loss of
ground should be expected with driven piles due to consolidation.
9. Loss of bearing at pile tip. In bored cast in-place piles, the success in washing the base
of the pile depends on the availability of good equipment, workmen and experienced
10. Difficulty in pulling out casing. In pure sand deposits while using driven cast in-place
piles it will be difficult to pull out the casing after concreting. Defects like necking occur
in such cases.
11. Probability of negative skin friction. It is claimed that this can be reduced in precast
piles by bituminous coatings. However, it may also be said that because of larger
disturbances produced while driving, driven piles produce more negative friction.
12. Possibility of pile damage during driving. If the driving is hard, precast driven piles tend
to get damaged in the body due to driving stresses and at head due to inadequacy of
equipment or lack of strength at the top. These should be carefully looked into.

5.4 Load Carrying Capacity by Various Methods

At present, the following three methods are used to estimate the capacity of piles.

1. The static method based on soil properties for all types of piles.
2. The dynamic method using pile driving formulae based on the resistance observed in
the field.
3. The wave equation method for driven pile.


5.4.1 Piles in Granular Soils

The ultimate bearing capacity, Qu, of pile in granular soils is given in IS 2911 by the
following formula:

Qu = End bearing resistance + skin friction resistance.

Qu  Ap 0.5DN   Ap PD N q    K1PD1 tan  As1  Wt. of pile


End bearing resistance = small (Nγ effect) + very large (Nγ effect) + friction

Ap = cross-sectional area of the pile
D = stem diameter of pile
γ = unit weight of soil
Nγ = bearing capacity factor taken for general shear-(IS 6403) Fig. 5.1
Nq =berezantsev’s bearing capacity factor- Fig. 5.1 (IS 2911)
PD = effective overburdened pressure(critical depth taken as 15D for Ф ≤ 30° and
20D for Ф > 40°
K1 = coefficient of earth pressure (Tables 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 can be used)
PD1 = effective overburdened pressure of corresponding layer (This effect is
controlled by prescribing limiting function).
δ = angle of wall friction usually taken as 3/4Ф of soil.
As = surface area of pile.


Fig. 5.1 Bearing capacity factor Nq according to various investigators.

Fig. 5.2 IS 2911 recommendation for Nq values for varying  values.


Fig. 5.3 IS 2911 recommendation for Nq values for varying  values.

The first term and the last term are usually small and can be neglected in Eq. (5.1).
Qult  Ap PD N q   K1PD1 tan  (5.2)

Table 5.1 Brons values for K and δ for different pile materials in granular soils

Types of piles K for driven piles Angle of wall friction,

Dense; Ф≥ 40° Loose; Ф ≤ 25° δ
Concrete 2.0 1.0 0.75 Ф
Steel 1.0 0.5 20°
Timber 2.5 1.5 0.75 Ф


Table 5.2 Variable of base and shaft resistance of concrete piles with method of
installation in granular soils

K Values Nq Values
Soil density Critical depth
Pre-cast Cast-in- Pre-cast driven Cast-in-situ
(IS 2911) ratio of driven
driven pile situ piles pile piles
Following corrections are to be made
in  for calculation of Nq
Dense 20 2.0 1.5
1. For driven cast-in-situ pile, Ф is
(Ф > 40°)
2. For driven precast piles, Ф is
Medium (Intermediate) 1.5 1.3 changed to (Ф+40)/2.
3. For bored cast-in-situ piles if the
bottom is cleaned throughly by
continuous mud circulation, Ф is
15 1.0 1.0 4. For bored cast-in-situ piles where
Ф≤25°to 30° continuous mud circulation is not
used, Ф is reduced by 3 to 5

Table 5.3 Determination of K for different method of installation of piles

Methods of installation K/Ko*

Driven large displacement piles (concrete piles) 1 to 2
Driven small displacement piles (steel H piles) 0.75 to 1.75
Bored cast in-situ piles 0.70 to 1.0
Jetted piles 0.50 to 0.70
*Ko = (1 - sin) = coefficient of earth pressure at rest


5.4.2 Piles in Cohesive Soils

The ultimate bearing capacity, Qu of piles in soils is given by the following formula (IS 2911
part 1 Sec. 3):

Qu = end bearing resistance Qp + skin friction Qs.

Qu  AP N c C p    i ci Asi (5.3)
i 1

N c = bearing capacity factor in clays

C p = average cohesion at pile toe

 i = adhesion factor
ci = average cohesion of the ith layer on the side of the pile

Asi =surface area of pile stem in the ith layer

 i ci = adhesion between shaft of pile and clay.

It should be remembered that the average cohesion at pile toe can be different from the
value of the cohesion along the pile. The differences between precast driven and cast-in-
situ piles can be accounted for by multiplying  value by a factor equal to 0.8 for cast-in-
situ piles (according to IS 2911). The adhesion factor recommended by some other
investgators are peented in Figure 5.4.

Fig. 5.4 Adhesion factors for clays for driven piles: (a) according to Tomlimson; (b)
according to Flaate.


Adhesion Factor 

Bowels has given three methods (α, β, γ methods) to estimate skin friction. As it is difficult
to estimate the various quantities involved, simple methods of estimation are considered
good enough for a fair estimation of skin friction.

The shaft resistance of piles in clay depends on the cohesion of the clay and its adhesion
factor α, the adhesion being αc. Soft clays have a better adhesion factor than hard or brittle
clays. IS recommends the following methods to estimate the adhesion factor α for driven

Method 1: From empirical value of α

The values of α recommended by IS 2911 Part I Section 3 Clause B2 for driven piles for
various soils are given in Table 5.4.

Method 2: From field c/σv vales (IS 2911 Part 1 Sec. 2 Bored piles)

IS 2911 has introduced Tomlinson’s recommendation for all factor to be computed from
field values of c/σv (cohesion-vertical pressure ratio, represented as ψ) as follows. For
normally consolidated clays, the value of can c/σv be assumed to range from 0.2 to 0.3, so
that (c/σv )1/2 can be assumed to have a mean value of 0.5. If the value of c/σv (= ψ) is
greater than 0.5, the clay can be assumed to be overconsolidated.

Table 5.4 Adhesion factor for clays, for precast driven piles in clays

SPT values Consistency Range of cohesion Adhesion factor α

2 2
of clays N (kN/m ) (kg/cm ) Driven Bored
<4 Soft to very 1 to 25 0.01-0.25 >1.0
Reduce the
4 to 8 Medium stiff 25 to 50 0.25-0.50 0.70-0.40
values by
8 to 15 Stiff 50 to 100 0.50-1.0 0.40-0.30
factor 0.8
≥15 Stiff to hard ≥100 >1.0 0.30-0.25
1. The value of c for clays is N/15 to N/20 kg/cm2 (approximately)as derived from N values.
2. The value of α shall be limited to 0.5 for sensitive clays.
3. The value of α may be more than 0.7 in clays overlain by sand.


On the basis of the above assumption, the following α values are recommended by IS
2911 (Sec. 2)
If ψ ≤ 1, then    0.5 0.5 , but < 1 (5.4)
c /  v 1/ 2

If ψ >1, then   0.5 0.25 , but < 1and > 0.5 (5.5)

For bored piles the value of α as obtained above is to be multiplied by 0.8.

Correction for pile length as affecting Adhesion in clays (F)

Tomlimson has explained that research in offshore piles has shown that the two important
factors that influence adhesion in heavily loaded piles driven to deep penetration in clays
are following:
1. The overconsolidation ratio of the soil as already explained.
2. The slenderness or aspect ratio (also called L/B ratio)

The effect of the length factor F has been found to be as follows:

F = 1 for L/B ≤ 50
F = 0.7 for L/B ≥ 120

Intermediate values can be assumed to be linear. The following formula will give the
adhesion between shaft of pile and clay in terms of two factors, α and F.

Qi  Fc Asi (5.6)

5.4.3 Capacity of Piles in c- Soils by Static Formula

Using the fundamental soil properties with such soils, it is customary to use one of the
following methods:

Method 1: If the soil has small values of  treat it as purely cohesive soil. Similarly, if the
cohesion is small and  is large than treat the soil being cohesionless.


Method 2: Where the soil has large values of both c and  (as for a true c- soil), we should
use the conservative Terzaghi’s bearing capacity factor to determine the load carrying
capacity .This formula is expressed as follows.

 
Qb  AP cN c   vb N q  0.5DN   As c  K v tan   (5.7)

Nc, Nq, Nγ = Terzaghi’s bearing capacity factors
σvb, σv = Effective overburden pressure of base and pile shaft, irrespective of the
critical depth.

5.5 Uplift Resistance of Piles

Piles which are used in large towers and chimneys or in dry docks can go in tension under
uplift loads and overturning moments. This subject is fully described by Tomlinson [9].
Similarly, expansion of top layers of expansive soils like black cotton soils can produce
uplift of piles. The uplift resistance of straight sided friction piles are calculated in the same
way as explained for compression piles when the L/d ratio is greater than 5. (Bearing
resistance of the pile is absent when the pile is in pure tension). In the case of shorter
lengths (when L/d < 5) there is a likelihood of reduction of the frictional resistance. A factor
of safety of 3 is recommended for tensile strength. It should also be noted that generally
the movement necessary to mobilise the skin friction and hence, tension in piles is small.

Tension piles for towers can be constructed with enlargement of the base in which case
the strength of a part of the soil above the base of the pile can also be made to resist the
uplift forces as in the case of under reamed piles. Drilled in rock anchors are also
commonly used to resist tension forces and details of their design are explained in
Tomlimson. Past experience shows that in sands the resistance in tension is only 2/3 that
of skin friction value in compression. In clays they develop more or less the same skin
friction as in compression. As a rule, we may assume that the ultimate tension capacity of
a friction pile is two-thirds of its ultimate skin friction capacity in compression.


5.6 Negative Skin Friction

In conditions where the soil can move down relative to the pile, instead of the pile going
down because of the loading, the soil tends to 'hang on to the pile' and transfer its load
also on to the pile. Here, the skin friction between soil and pile increases the load on the
pile and hence this type of friction is called negative skin friction.

Some of the site conditions where negative skin friction can occur are given below.

1. When the pile is installed in a fill, which will undergo consolidation (Fig. 5.5).
2. In a soil which will be disturbed or remoulded thoroughly during the pile installation.
3. In piles installed in soft clay with surcharge loading on it.
4. In soils where lowering or variation of ground water can occur, thus leading to
significant settlement of soil strata around the pile.
5. In cases where piles are driven through a strata of soft clay into firmer soils and the soft
clay tends to settle relative to the pile.
6. In piles in a clay stratum which undergoes shrinkage settlement.

As negative skin friction is due to consolidation, it takes place slowly and increases with
time. Hence, its effects are not felt in pile load tests.

5.6.1 Estimation of Negative Skin Friction

It appears that even a small relative movement between pile and soil around the pile (of
the order of 10 mm), mobilizes full negative skin friction. However, we should realize the
difference between the following two conditions that can occur in the field.

Case 1. In the first case, the pile may rest on a hard stratum without any possible
downward movement of the pile but the soil around it settles. Here full negative friction

Case 2. In the second case, the pile rests on comparatively compressible strata so that
the pile settles to the same extent with the surrounding soil. In this case settlement of the
pile is large; the soil around the pile will have to pull the pile up in ‘positive friction’. Hence,
judgment must be used when estimating these forces.


The following procedure can be used for estimation of negative friction in single pile.

Method 1: maximum negative friction = (cohesion)  (area of pile shaft).

Nf = cAp, where Ap is the perimeter area. (5.8)

Method 2: For negative friction developed by consolidation of soil with piles, the following
expression is applicable.

fs-ve = 0

Total negative friction, QN = (0) Asi (5.9)

fs-ve = negative friction per unit area
0 = effective overburden pressure
 = the reduction factor. Meyerhof recommends values depending on length of piles,
0.3, 0.2, 0.2 for length 15, 40, 60 meters of pile lengths, respectively.
QN = total negative skin friction on the pile per unit length
A si = perimeter area

In places where we expect negative skin friction, the usual practice is to design piles for the
following condition depending on the severity of the negative skin friction.

Condition 1: Qu (required) = FS (working load + negative skin friction)

This approach is very conservative as in the calculation of negative skin friction we are
calculating the maximum negative friction and putting a safety factor for it.

Condition 2: Qu (required) = FS (working load) + negative skin friction

This second procedure is the one generally used. It should be used after a careful
assessment of the soil conditions and the importance of the structure.


5.6.2 Method of Mitigating Negative Skin Friction

The following methods are used to mitigate skin friction in piles:

1. Coat the surface of the precast pile with thick coat of special bituminous paint which
have been proved to reduce skin friction as much as 90 per cent of the theoretical
2. Drive the piles inside a casing. In the top negative friction height, the space between
pile and casing is filled with a viscous material and the casing is withdrawn after
installing the pile.
3. In Holland they have successfully experimented with precast concrete piles with shafts
of smaller cross sectional area along its length as compared with the base. This
solution is possible with bearing piles only where we do not depend on the shaft

negative skin friction

R ecent fill
Probable zone of

com pressive

H ard


Fig. 5.5 Negative skin friction in piles.


5.7 Comparison of Capacities of Driven and Bored Piles

When the total capacity of a pile is due to both bearing and side resistance, driven piles
can be expected to give much higher capacity than bored piles, especially in cohesionless
soils. However, there are bearing piles to bear on very farm strata like rock or very dense
sand at great depths, bored piles can be expected to have better load resistance than
driven piles. However, it is very important that in bored piles the base should be very
carefully cleaned before concreting. Otherwise, debris collected at the bottom will enable
only the frictional part of the resistance of the pile to be mobilized at the allowable
settlement stipulated in the pile test.

5.8 Illustrative Examples

Example 5.1

Estimate the ultimate loads bearing capacity of a precast driven pile 500 × 500 mm with 25
mm chamfer at the corners in section and 15 m long develop in strata with the following
soil data. Assume submerged conditions.

Layer Depth Type of soil N values SCPT

(m) Value(kg/cm2)
1 0 to 5 Clay fill 4 16
2 5 to 11 Medium sand 20 120
3 11 to 13 Medium sand 25 150
4 13 to 15 Medium sand 35 200
5 Beyond 15 Medium sand 50 300


Step 1: Determination soil properties from SPT values
Layer Thickness Type N c,  values
1 5 Clay 4 c=0.2kg/cm2
2 6 Sand 20  = 33°
3 2 Sand 25  = 35°
4 2 Sand 35  = 37°
5 - Sand 50  = 41°

Step 2: Find properties of pile section

L 15
  30 ;> Critical depth 20D = 10 m
D 0.5

Pile extend beyond critical depth

Assume submerged wt. of soil = 10 kN/m3 = 1 t/ m3
Max. effective overburdened, PD =10t (from friction)
AP = (0.5)2 -2(0.025)2 = 0.24875 m2
Perimeter = 4 ×0.5 = 2 m

Step 3: Determination of components of top layer (-ve friction)

Thickness = 5 m
qsi   Ai c = - (2 ×5) ×2 = - 20 tons (-ve friction)
As the layer is at the top and as the pile is precast we can reduce this drag by bituminous

Step 4: Estimate friction from 2nd to 4th layer

Qs   KPD tan AP ; AP = perimeter = 2 m

For pile driven in medium sand,  = 40° (assumed)

K= 1.5; Assume δ = (3/4) 
The following values can be used.
(Note: K for driven pies as assumed > K for bored piles.)


Layer Thickness Mean depth ° δ= ¾ 
(m) (PD)
2 6 8 33° 25
3 2 12 35° 26
4 2 14 37° 27
5 ─ ─ 41°

Calculate frictional resistance of each layer

(Assume K =1.5 and γ =1 t/m2
qs1 = 1.5 × 8 × tan25° = 5.59 t/m2
qs2 = 1.5 × 12 × tan26° = 8.77 t/m2
qs3 = 1.5 × 14 × tan27° = 10.77 t/m2
Allowable maximum = 11 t/ m2 (All values < 11 t/ m2)
Qs = 5.59(2×6) + 8.77 (2×2) + (10.77×2×2) = 145 t

Step 5: Calculate bearing strength

Qb  AP 0.5DN   PD N q  Wt. of pile (W )

 = 41° N  = 142; Assumed γ = 1 t/ m3

Qb  PD N q

For Nq we use Berezantev’s curves (IS 2911)

 37  41 
For Nq;     =39°
 2 
N q =120 and PD N q =1200
Qb = 0.249 [0.5 ×0.5 ×1 ×142) + (10 × 120)] – W
=0.249(35.5 + 1200) ≈ 1200 t/ m2 (see below)
(First term = 8.8 t; and the wt. of the pile = (0.5)2 × 15 × 2.5 =9.3t
-negative first and last term)
Limiting PD N q to 1100 t/ m2, which is <1200 t/ m2,

Qb = 0.249 × 1100 = 273 tons (approx)


Step 6: Total bearing capacity

Qu = Qb + Qs = (273 +145) tons

Qallowable  - Negative skin friction
F .S
=  20 =147 tons

Example 5.2

The soil profile at the site for a multistory building is as follows. Determine the capacities of
400 mm, 760 mm and 900 mm diameter bored piles extending to a depth of 29 m. Assume
the weight of soil as 1800 kg/cm2 and that submergence can occur.

Depth(m) Type of soil Cohesion(kg/cm2) Angle of friction

0-5 Stiff clay 0.5 -
5-21 Soft clay 0.1 -
21-25 Stiff clay 0.5 -
25-29 Medium sand - 30°
Below 29 Weathered rock - 38°


Step 1: Method of calculation of end resistance

Qb  AP 0.5DN   PD N q  Wt. of pile (W )

Neglecting 1st and last term, we got Qb  AP PD N q 
Where, PD =effective overburdened pressure
Submerged weight of soil,  =0.8 t/ m3
Assume critical depth = 20D = hc
Assuming maximum allowable end resistance of 1100 t/m2 for
Bored pile critical diameter of pile be D; Nq =100
qb  20 D  0.8  100 = 1100 t/m2
Critical D = 0.688 or 688 mm dia.


For dia above 700 mm, limit qb 1100 t/ m2

Step 2: Calculate skin resistance (for different value of PD)

Qs   cAs and Qs   KPD tan As

1. Clay (-0.5m). It can produce negative skin friction.
qs1 = (0.5× 5) = 2.5 t/ m2
qs1 = (D × 5)2.5 = - 39.25 D tons
2. Clay (5-21). It can produce negative skin friction
qs2 = (1× 1) = 1 t/ m2
qs2 = (D × 16)2.5 = - 50 D tons
3. Clay (21-25) – no further consolidation (no drag)
qs3 = (0.5× 5) = 2.5 t/ m2
qs3 = (D × 4)2.5 = - 31.4 D tons
4. Sand (24- 29) m sand ;  =30° at 27 depth.
For K use Table 9.2; IS 2911 value = 1
δ = 0.75 × 30 = 22.5° (wall friction)
tan δ = 0.41; mean depth = 27 m; use K/Ko = 1
KPD tan  1  (0.8  27)0.41 = 8.8 t/m2
(8.8 is less than 11 t/m2, max allowed
Qs 4  (D  4)8.8  110 D
Alternate method for K in above
K o 1  sin  1  sin 30  0.5

K / K o = 0.71 to 1 for bored piles

K = 1 × 0.5 = 0.5 only

Step 3: Determine total skin resistance

(110D + 31.4D) = 141D + ve

(-39D -50D) = -89D + ve


Step 4: Calculate end bearing for different diameters

(a) Diameter of pile is 400 mm

20D = 8 m depth of pile 29 m, L/D = 20
Hence Nq = 100
PD = 8×0.8 = 6.4 t/m2 ; qb = 6.4×100 = 640 t/m2 ;
640<max, allowable 1100 t/m2

 0.4 2
Qb   640  80.3 tons
 Qs 141D 141  0.4  56t and Qb  Qs 136t 

 Qs   89 D   89  0.4   35t
Qb = 136 t and -35 t (negative friction)

Step 5: Calculate structural capacity

 
Q structural D 2 / 4 0.25 f ck 

Qst   400 2 / 4  0.25  20 = 62 tons

(b) Diameter of piles is 760 mm

20D = 20× 0.76 = 15.2m < 29 m (depth)
PD  15.2  0.8  12 ; qb  12 100  1200
As it is >1100, the allowable value, use 1100 only

 0.762
Qb  1100  498 tons
 Qs 141D 141 0.76 107t

 Qs   89 D   89  0.76   67t
Qu = 498+107= +605t and - 67t
Qst = 226 tons

(c) Diameter of pile is 900 mm

Similar calculation will yield.
Qu = +826 and – 80 tons (negative drag)
Qst = 317 tons (structural capacity)


Step 5: Tabulate the result

Pile dia (mm) Qst (ton) Qu (ton) Qu /2.5 (ton) Q-ve (ton) Qsafe (ton)
400 62 136 54 -35 19
760 226 605 242 -67 159
900 317 826 330 -80 237

Step 6: Find efficiency of the piles

If we calculate ton carried per cubic meter of pile, we get the following:
(a) For 400 mm dia pile,
19  4
Tonnage per m3   5.21 t/c.m
 0.42  29
(b) For 760 mm dia pile,
159  4
Tonnage per m3  12.0 t/c.m
 0.762  29
(c) For 900 mm dia pile,
237  4
Tonnage per m3  12.8 t/c.m
 0.92  29
Thus, larger diameter piles becomes more economical and optimum diameter can be
found for use.

Problem 5.1

A reinforced concrete structure 100 ft square is to be supported by a raft with its base 16 ft
below the surrounding ground surface. The subsoil consists of sand to great depth. Five
borings have been made at the site; the average N-values, corrected for the influence of
the overburden pressure, are respectively 36, 30, 32, 35 and 33. The average unit weight
of the sand is 114 lb/ft3. While test-boring was in progress, the water level was at a depth
of 5 ft. During construction the water level will be lowered to 20 ft, but upon completion of
the structure the level will return to its original position. What total load, including the weight
of raft, structure, and contents, may be supported at a settlement not to exceed 2 in; that
is, at a differential settlement not to exceed ¾ in?



6.1 Steps in Choosing Type of Foundation

In choosing the type of foundation, the engineer must perform five successive steps:

1) Obtain at least approximate information concerning the nature of the superstructure

and the loads to be transmitted to the foundations.
2) Determine the subsurface conditions in a general way.
3) Consider briefly each of the customary types of foundation to judge whether they
could be constructed under the existing conditions, whether they would probably be
capable of carrying the required loads, and whether they might experience
detrimental settlements. Eliminate, in this preliminary way, obviously unsuitable
4) Make more detailed studies and even tentative designs of the most promising
types. These studies may require additional information concerning the load and
subsurface conditions and generally must be carried far enough to determine the
approximate size of footings or piers or the approximate length and number of piles
required. It may also be necessary to make more refined estimates of settlement in
order to predict the behavior of the structure.
5) Prepare an estimate of the cost of each promising type of foundation, and choose
the type that represents the most acceptable compromise between performance
and cost.
Steps 3 and 4 require a knowledge of the probable behavior of each type of foundation for
each type of subsurface condition.


6.2 Bearing Capacity and Settlement

On the assumption that it is practicable to construct a given type of foundation under the
conditions prevailing at a site, the probable performance of the foundation must be judged
with respect to two types of unsatisfactory behavior. On the one hand, the entire foundation
or any of the elements of which it is composed may break into the ground because the soil
or rock is incapable of supporting the load without failure. On the other hand, the
supporting soil or rock may not fail, but the settlement of the structure may be so treat or so
uneven that the superstructure may become cracked and damaged. Misbehavior of the
first type is related to the strength of the supporting soil or rock and is known as a bearing-
capacity failure. That of the second is associated with the stress-deformation
characteristics of the soil or rock, and is known as detrimental settlement. In reality the two
types of unsatisfactory behavior are often so closely related that the distinction is entirely
arbitrary. For example, a footing on loose sand settles by greater and greater increments,
out of proportion to the increases in load, until even the settlements under very small
increments are intolerable; yet no outright plunging of the footing into the ground occurs. In
other instances the distinction is clear; a footing on stiff clay underlain by a layer of soft
clay may be entirely safe against breaking into the ground, but the settlement due to
consolidation of the soft clay may be excessive. In many practical problems the two types
of unsatisfactory behavior can be investigated separately, as if they had independent
causes. Such separation considerably simplifies the engineer’s approach.

6.3 Design Loads

The selection of the loads on which the design of a foundation is to be based influences
not only the economy but sometimes even the type of the foundation. Moreover, the soil
conditions themselves have a bearing on the loads that should be considered.

Every foundation unit should be capable of supporting, with a reasonable margin of safety,
the maximum load to which it is ever likely to be subjected, even if this load may act only
briefly or once in the lifetime of the structure. If an overhead or a misjudgment of the soil
conditions would result merely in an excessive increase in settlement but not an outright
failure of the subsoil, a smaller factor of safety might be justified than if the overload would
lead to a sudden and catastrophic bearing-capacity failure.


The maximum load and corresponding soil pressure or pile loads are often specified by
building codes; these requirements are legal restraints on the design that must be satisfied.
However, since they may not take into account all eventualities, the foundation engineer
must assure himself that the foundations are safe, even though they satisfy the code.
Furthermore, the loadings required for investigations of safety or to satisfy the legal
requirements may not be appropriate for assuring the most satisfactory performance of the
structure with respect to settlement.

For example, since sands deform quickly under change in stress, the settlements of
footings on sand reflect the actual maximum load to which they are subjected. The actual
live load may never approach the value prescribed by the building code, whereas the
actual and computed dead loads should be practically equal. Hence, a column for which
the code ratio of live to dead load is large is likely to settle less than one for which it is
small. Thus, to proportion footings on sand for equal settlement, the engineer should use
the most realistic possible estimate of the maximum live loads instead of arbitrarily inflated

If a pile cluster is surrounded by fresh fill after the piles are driven, it is likely that the
compressible materials above the bearing stratum will settle progressively for a
considerable time because of the weight of the fill. Under these conditions, the piles may
be acted on by the condition, the pile my be acted on by the additional force due to the skin
friction of the subsiding materials, known as the negative skin friction or drag as described
in Art. 5.5.

The magnitude of the drag per unit of area cannot exceed the shearing strength of the
compressible soil which may usually be considered as one half the unconfined
compressive strength. They are on which the drag acts is the vertical surface that
surrounds the entire group of piles or the entire pile foundation.

Although is it not possible to estimate with great accuracy the additional pile load due to
drag, a rough computation can be made to indicate whether or not the added load will be of
serious consequence, and appropriate measures can be taken. Several examples of
unexpected settlement of large magnitude have been attributed to neglect of negative skin


The safe load on a group of piles driven through compressible layers to firm material is
equal to the number of piles in the group multiplied by the safe load per pile. No reduction
need be made because of close spacing of the piles. In fact, it may be preferable to keep
the spacing as small as 2.5 times the diameter of the pile if there is a likelihood that
negative ski friction may develop because of consolidation of the soft deposit. The
additional pile load due to the negative skin friction should be taken into consideration.



7.1 Introduction

A properly designed retaining wall must satisfy two almost independent requirements. First,
to make the structure safe against failure by overturning and excessive settlement, the
pressure beneath the base must not exceed the allowable soil pressure; furthermore, the
structure as a whole must have an adequate factor of safety with respect to sliding along
its base or along some weak stratum below its base. Second, the entire structure as well
as each of its parts must posses adequate strength. Retaining walls are especially
provided where a high degree of performance under unfavorable climatic conditions is

7.2 Types of Retaining Walls

Conventional retaining walls can be one of the following types as shown in Fig. 7.1.

1. Simple gravity walls (free standing suitable when 2 to 3 m high) made of masonry, plain
concrete (which can be also semi-gravity type with very little steel) incorporated in the
2. R.C. cantilever walls used up to 6 m height.
3. R.C. cantilever walls. Counterforts are on the earth side. They are designed as T
beams of tapering section. They are more suitable when walls are greater than 6 m in
height. And the earth behind the wall is to be raised by filling.
4. R.C. buttressed walls. The buttress is on the front of the walls and acts as compression
members transmitting loading to the base slab or to the foundation piles on weak soils.

They are also suitable where the walls are cast against an excavated face. The following
structures are also used to retain earth:

1. Tied back diaphragm walls and circular sheet pile wall with earth fill inside
2. Cantilevered continuous walls of bored concrete piles
3. Cribwork walls
4. Free standing or tied back sheet pile walls
5. Mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls.

Revetments built to stabilize existing earth slopes are different from retaining walls which
are backfilled after the construction of the wall.

(a) (b) (c)

(d) (e)


Fig. 7.1 Types of Retaining structures: (a) and (b) gravity walls; (c) cantilever retaining
walls; (d) R.C. counterfort walls; (f) wall and revetment to stabilize slopes.


7.3 Nature and Magnitudes of Earth Pressure

Terzaghi demonstrated experimentally that three types of earth pressure coefficients can
be identified when we consider three states of equilibrium of earth behind retaining walls.
They are the following:

1. Coefficient of earth pressure at rest, K0

2. Coefficient of active earth pressure, KA
3. Coefficient of passive earth pressure, KP

1. Coefficient of earth pressure at rest

In nature, soil is formed in many ways. In soil deposits also, as in a liquid, a horizontal
pressure exists with depth, and Terzaghi named it as the earth pressure at rest. The
pressure at any depth h is given by

Ph =K0h (7.1)

where ‘K0’ is the coefficient of earth pressure at rest. It has been suggested that for sands
and normally consolidates clays, it can be expressed by the effective stress parameter
  by the following formula

K0 = 1- sin   (7.2)

For over consolidated clays and sands, the value of K0 depends on the stress history of the
soil and can also be greater than unity. The magnitude can be as given in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1 Recommended values of K0

Type of soil K0
Loose sand 0.45-0.50
Dense sand 0.40-0.45
Sand compacted by machines 0.80-1.50
Normally consolidated clays 0.50-0.60
Over consolidated clays 1.0-4.0


(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 7.2 Types of Earth Pressure: (a) coefficent of earth pressure at rest; (b) coeffcient of
active earth pressure; and (c) coeffcient of passive earth pressure.

The at-rest condition does not involve failure of the soil, but represents a state of elastic
equilibrium. The coefficient of earth pressure at rest with respect to others is shown in Fig.

Coefficient of Ative Earth Pressure:

If the wall is to move away from the backfill as shown in Fig. 7.2 (b), a part of the soil mass
behind the wall tends to fail, and this mass will exert pressure on the wall. The coefficient
of the earth pressure corresponding to the minimum pressure on the wall is the coefficient
of the active earth pressure. Here, the soil mass is active in exerting pressure on the wall
and hence the term ‘active earth pressure’.

Coefficient of Passive Earth Pressure:

If we press the wall into the soil mass as shown in Fig. 7.2, a larger mass of earth than in
the active state exerts resistance to the movement. It is in a passive state and the earth
has to be pushed up at failure. The pressure required for a failure to happen is called
passive earth pressure. The term ‘passive pressure’ is used as the soil is in a passive
state. The corresponding coefficient of earth pressure is called the passive pressure
coefficient. The active and passive cases are the two extreme cases brought about by the
proper movement of the retaining structure. If the necessary movement does not take
place, the pressure can have intermediate values.


Experiments show that in sand as little as 0.1 to 0.3% of horizontal strain only required to
bring about the active state whereas a strain as large as 2 to 3 per cent is required for the
passive state to occur. In loose sands, a much larger movement (of 15%) may be required
for the passive state. It is also evident from Fig. 7.3 that for a wedge type of failure, a


Fig. 7.3 Earth pressures developed with various types of walls: (a) Basement walls; (b)
bridge abutments.

rotation of the wall at its base will satisfy the required movement. A deflection at the top of
the order of 0.001H to 0.05H (where H is the height of the wall) is usually taken as
necessary to develop active pressure. It should also be noted that in soils with friction the
mass of soil involved in passive state is more than that in the active state.

However, if we take the case of filling back to basement walls or bridge abutment walls
built after the deck is completed (which cannot move or rotate as in the case in Fig. 7.3)
the pressure on the wall will more likely be “at-rest pressure” than active pressure state.
The pressure will depend on the way the soil in compacted around it. Similarly, in braced
excavations (Fig. 7.4), where the bracings on top are placed before the soil below is
excavated, the walls cannot undergo the necessary movements for active state to happen.
Terzaghi pointes out that many failures that occurred in the subway constructions were due
to wrong assumptions made by the designers that the active earth pressure and
hydrostatic distribution of pressure acted on these timbering also. Actual measurements
have shown that the distribution of pressure against bracing of open cuts is as shown in
Fig. 7.4. Sands and clays produce different pressure as shown in the figure.


Laboratory experiments have proved the effects of movement of walls on earth pressures.
As already pointed out, the effect of rotation about the base and lateral movement of walls
were carried out by Terzaghi in 1929. With the wall in lateral movement, he found that
initially the resultant pressure was found at a level higher than the middle third (i.e., there
was tendency for parabolic distribution) until yielding was sufficient to produce the slip,
when the resultant acted at H/3. In 1939, Taylor carried out model tests to study the effect
of rotation of the wall around its top as happens in timbering of excavations. In such cases,
the pressure was found to be larger than the active pressure and the resultant also did not

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 7.4 Earth pressure on timbering of excavations: (a) order of struting used; (b)
distribution of earth pressure recommended for design of struts in sand; (c) distribution
recommended in clays.

act at H/3. These experiments fully explained the importance of wall movement and the
field observation. These studies were later continued by Taylor to arrive at the modern
recommendations for calculating pressures on timbering of excavations. The approximate
amounts of movement requires to produce active state in various types of soils are given in
Table 7.2.

Table 7.2 Movement of wall to produce active state (H= Height of wall)
Soil Movement at top
Loose sand 0.002 to 0.004H
Dense sand 0.001 to 0.002H
Stiff cohesive 0.01 to 0.02H


7.4 Pressure on Retaining Structures

Having understood the basic mechanics of earth pressures, It is easy to investigate the
pressures exerted on different type retaining structures, these are divided into the following

1. Rigid structures: Rigid types of retaining wall can be one of the following:

a) Gravity walls: These are generally made of masonry in which tension is not
allowed. The stability of wall is purely due to gravity. Such walls are not good as
high walls. They are used for heights up to 6 m. Generally 30 to 50 percent of the
height is provided as base width. Sloping from heel upwards adds to the stability of
the wall.
b) Reinforced concrete wall: They can be one of the three types: cantilever walls
(used up to 7 to 8 m), counterfort (for above 7 m) and buttress type (similar to
counterfort where the vertical walls are built on the opposite site of the back fill).
c) Semi-gravity wall: These are concrete walls whose action is in between the above
two and only small amount of steel is used to reduce the mass of concrete.
d) Crib walls: These are used for moderate heights (up to 7 m) and are made of cribs,
which are filled with granular material or stones. No surcharge other than earth fills
should be placed behind the walls.

2. Sheet pile walls: There are flexible walls and are widely used for waterfront structures.
The two types they are commonly used are the following:

a) Cantilever sheet pile walls (sheet piles simply driven into soil).
b) Anchored sheet pile walls (sheet piles simply driven in and anchored at top).


3. Cellular cofferdams: These are used for river diversion work as retaining walls, the
retained material being water. The soil fill inside the cell and the sheet pile provide the
stability. More complex forces like tension capacity of steel interlocks are involved in
addition to lateral pressure in their designs. The three main types of Cellular cofferdams
are following:

a) Circular cofferdam for deep cells

b) Diaphragm type for quiet waters
c) Clover leaf type used as a corner or anchor cell along with cellular walls

4. Reinforced earth retaining walls

7.5 Design of Retaining Walls

Conditions to be satisfied

Having initial proportioning of the wall, we can calculate the earth pressures and check
the wall for the following conditions:

1. Structural stability: The wall should be checked for stability against overturning and
sliding. The recommended factors of safety used for overturning are, respectively, 1.5
for granular backfill and 2.0 for clayey backfills. The factor of safety against sliding
should be at least 1.5.
2. Foundation stability: There should be enough factor of safety against bearing
capacity failure. (One of the disadvantages of retaining walls as compared to sheet-
pile walls for retaining earth is the need for good foundation soil for retaining walls).
3. Structural design: Simple masonry gravity walls are designed so that the resultant of
all the loads falls within the middle third of the base so that there will be no tension in
the structure. Reinforced concrete walls are designed using standard codes. Mass
concrete walls with nominal steel are designed as gravity walls, allowing limited


7.5.1 Design of Basement Walls

In framed construction of buildings, most of the exterior walls above ground level are
generally supported by beams between columns. These beams are also connected to
the floor slab. However, the exterior walls of basements below ground level which have
to resist lateral pressures are usually designed as free-standing cantilever retaining
walls. This is necessary as the bottom floor of the basements is constructed only in the
final stages of work and the foundation slab of walls should not depend on its connection
with basement floor slab for its stability. The retaining walls should be stable by
themselves. As the earth faces of the basement walls have to be waterproofed, the
construction procedures should suit that purpose. The following at rest value of K0

K0 = (1 – sin φ) > K active is usually used for their design.

7.5.2 Design of Cantilever Retaining Wall

The design of a retaining wall can be summarized by the following steps, of which the first
five relate to proportioning and stability, and the final two constitute the strength

1. Choose tentative proportions for the structure, including dimensions for the stem, and
the base as well as the position of the stem at the base.
2. Estimate the magnitude of all the forces acting above the bottom of the base.

3. Determine the point of intersection of the forces found in step 2 with the plane of the
bottom of the base. The location of this point constitutes a check on the stability of the
wall with respect to overturning.
4. Determine the magnitude of the foundation pressure against the base.
5. Check the factor of safety against sliding.
6. Apply load factors to the earth pressure and other loads and compute the
corresponding pressures, reactions, shears, and moments.
7. Calculate the ultimate strengths at critical sections of the elements.


The computations involved in steps 3 to 7 almost always indicate necessary revisions in
the tentative dimensions of step 1.

Location and Use of Base Slab Keys

Keys are usually provided in the base slabs of retaining walls to increase resistance
against sliding. As shown in Fig. 7.5, it is preferable to place it at the heel on the earth side
as it will be able to mobilize more base resistance than when it is placed at the toe. When
placed at the toe, they are likely to be disturbed by rain water, excavations and other

450 mm

Top layer low permeability


Packed rubble

Precast cover slab

Weep hole
Precast concrete channel

Toe Heel


Fig. 7.5 Position of keys in cantilever retaining walls.

7.5.3 Economic Design of High Retaining Walls

Simple gravity walls and reinforced concrete walls will be found very expensive for very
high walls e.g. above 10 m and also in situations where high distributed loads will be
applied on the back fill. In these cases, the pressure on the retaining walls will be very
high and configuration of the wall similar to gravity dams or a wall with a tie back as in
anchored bulkheads can be useful. Yet another solution is the provision of a relieving

If we adopt buttress walls the relieving platforms can be built in the from of simple or tied
arches in between these buttress walls. These platforms can also be built without from
work after backfilling the wall to the level of these platforms. If we use straight relieving
platforms, they may have to be supported at the far end on column piles. Use of relieving
platforms is quite common in construction of quay walls and high retaining walls. A
retaining wall with relieving platform is shown in Fig. 7.6.

7.6 Importance of Drainage of Backfill

As rise of water level behind retaining walls increases the lateral pressures, it is very
important that drainage arrangements with weep holes are provided for these walls.
Usually they are provided at 0.9 m to 1.5 m spacing along the length and are connected to
a permeable back drain, continuous on the back of the wall as shown in Fig. 7.7. In
addition, the top layer of the fill should be a low permeability layer provided with a gutter to
drain away the rain water.

Relieving platform


Fig. 7.6 Retaining walls with relieving platforms.


(a) (b)

(c) (d)

Fig. 7.7 Drainage of retaining walls: (a) vertical drains; (b) inclined draines; (c) horizontal
drains and seal with inclined drainage for clay backfill; (d) drains for clay backfills.



8.1 Introduction

Caissons, which are also known as, wells, have been in use for foundations of bridges and
other important structures since the Roman and Moghul periods in India. Moghuls in
particular used wells for the foundations of their monuments, including Taj Mahal, which is
a standing testimony to the skill of mankind in the earlier days. In modem times, however,
one of the earliest use in India is that for an aqueduct for the upper Ganges Canal
constructed in the earlier part of the 19th century. With the advent of pneumatic sinking in
1850 A.D., and discovery of better materials like reinforced concrete and steel, use of wells
as foundations of bridges gained popularity. Well foundations have been used for most of
the major bridges in India. Materials commonly used for construction are reinforced
concrete, brick or stone masonry. Use of well or caisson foundations is equally popular in
the United States of America and other western countries. The size of caisson used for the
San Francisco Oakland Bridge is 29.6 x 60.1 m in section and 74 m depth.

8.2 Types of Wells or Caissons

There are three types of caissons. They are:

1. Open caissons
2. Pneumatic caissons
3. Box caissons

Open Caissons

The top and bottom of the caisson (Fig. 8.1a) is open during construction. They may have
any shape in plan as round, oblong, oval, rectangular etc. They are of cellular construction
and the provision of cells reduces the cost of construction. The open-end caisson usually
has a cutting edge. The cutting edge is first fabricated at the site and the first segment of
the shaft is built on it. The soil inside the shaft is removed by grab buckets and the
segment is sunk vertically.

Another segment is added to the top and the process of sinking is continued by excavating
the soil inside. After the required depth is reached, concrete is placed under water on the
open bottom as a seal to a depth that will contain the hydrostatic uplift pressure so as to
avoid blowing in of the bottom when the water inside the caisson is pumped out. When the
concrete seal is completely cured, the water in the caisson can be pumped out.

Dredging wells sealed at bottom

after completion of sinking


Air locks

Air shafts


Dredged bed


Fig. 8.1 Types of Caissons: (a) Open Caisson; (b) Pneumatic Caisson; and (c) Box


Advantages of open caissons are:

1. The caisson can be constructed to great depths.

2. The construction cost is relatively low.

Disadvantages are:

1. The clearing and inspection of bottom of the caisson cannot be done.

2. Concrete seal placed in water will not be satisfactory.
3. The rate of progress will be slowed down if boulders are met during construction.

Pneumatic Caissons

In the case of pneumatic caissons [Fig. 8.1 (b)], the working chamber at the bottom of the
caisson is kept dry by forcing out water under air pressure. Air locks are provided at the
top. The caisson is sunk as the excavation proceeds. Upon reaching its final depth, the
working chamber is filled with concrete.

Advantages of pneumatic caisson are:

1. Control over the work and preparation of foundation for the sinking of caisson are
better since the work is done in the dry.
2. The caisson can be sunk vertically as careful supervision is possible.
3. The bottom of the chamber can be sealed effectively with concrete as it can be placed
4. Obstruction to sinking, such as boulders etc. tan be removed easily.

Disadvantages are:

1. Construction cost is quite high.

2. The depth of penetration below water is limited to about 35 m (3.5 kg/cm2). Higher
pressures are beyond the endurance of the human body.


Box Caissons

In the case of box caissons [Fig. 8.1(c)] the bottom is closed. This type of caisson is first
cast on land and then towed to the site and then sunk on to a previously levelled
foundation base. It is sunk by filling inside with sand, gravel, concrete or water. The box
type of caisson is also called as floating caisson.

Advantages of box caissons are:

1. The cost of construction is relatively low.

2. It can be used where the construction of other types of caissons are not possible.

Disadvantages are:

1. The foundation base shall be prepared in advance of sinking.

2. Deep excavations for seating the caissons at the required depth is very difficult below
water level.
3. Due care has to be taken to protect the foundation from scour.

8.3 Forces Acting on Wells

Stability and strength are the main items to be checked in well design. The forces acting on
the well foundation can be grouped under the two following heads:

1. Vertical loads
 Self-weight of well
 Buoyancy
 Dead load of superstructure and substructure
 Live load
 Kent ledge during sinking operation

2. Horizontal forces
 Braking and tractive effort of vehicles
 Forces due to resistance of bearings


 Forces due to water current or waves
 Centrifugal forces for bridges on curves
 Wind forces or seismic forces
 Earth pressures
 Other horizontal or uplift forces like those due to provision of transmission line
tower with broken wire condition.

All these effects are converted to resultant vertical and horizontal loads as well as a
moment as shown by W, H and M in Fig. 8.2.

Maxm. Scour level


P1 P

F 1 2

Fig. 8.2 Forces acting on a well foundation.

8.4 Bearing capacity of Wells

As the well is deep foundation, its bearing capacity requirements can be easily satisfied.
However, we should be careful to cheek the settlement and stability conditions. There is
considerable increase in bearing capacity if the well is founded in deep cohesionless soils.
the following empirical formula for allowable bearing pressure for sands based on its N
value, for safety against shear failure can be used.

q u  [5.4 N 2 B  16(100  N 2 ) D]  (kN/m2) (8.1)


qu = safe bearing capacity in kN/m2
N = corrected SPT value
B =smaller dimension of well
D = depth of well foundation below scour level.

The bearing capacity of a well in clays should be based on both its shear strength and
settlement. As we have seen, when dealing with piles, the increase in bearing capacity of
clays with depth is not as much as in sands.

8.5 Methods of Analysis

The external forces acting on a heavy well are the vertical forces W, the horizontal forces,
H and moment M. there can be also transverse forces due to wind. These are resisted by
the following forces acting on the well which are also shown in Fig. 8.2.

1. Net lateral earth pressure = P1 acting opposite in direction to H

2. Friction along the embedded height = P1
3. Vertical reaction from base = R
4. Moment at base due to unequal distribution of base pressure = MB
5. Friction at base = F [The friction at base is represented by ].

The difference between various methods of analysis depends on the assumptions made.
For example, the value of P1 will depend on whether we consider it at the ultimate state or
the elastic state called the state of incipient failure. The distribution of the reaction P1 will
be at the Rankine states, if we assume ultimate failure condition. On the other hand, if we
assume the elastic state only, then the reaction will depend on the amount of movement of
the wall and we use the modulus of sub-grade reaction method to determine the
distribution of forces.

Similarly, the point about which we assume the rotation of the well to take place makes
large differences in the resisting forces. The magnitude and the direction of frictional forces
at the base will depend on the assumed location of the point of rotation of the well. Usually
for elastic analysis, we assume that the well tilts about the centre of base ultimate failure
that the well rotates about a point 0.2 D above the base.


The accuracy of the method to determine stability depends on whether we take all the
above forces into account or neglect some of them. For example, in the first method
suggested by Terzaghi, he neglected some of the frictional forces.

8.6 Stability analysis of Well Foundations

Two types of soils are considered in the stability analysis of well foundations. They are
cohesionless and cohesive soils. This chapter deals with the lateral stability of well
foundation only. The vertical bearing capacity of deep foundations is also applicable to well
foundations, and as such this aspect of the problem is not considered here.

Statement of the Problem

A well foundation used for a bridge pier shall carry both vertical and lateral loads. Vertical
loads comprise of dead and live loads. The dead loads include the weights of
superstructure and substructure. The vertical line loads are brought on to the structure due
to the passing of vehicles over the bridge. The lateral loads are caused due to braking or
traction of vehicles, water current, wind, earthquakes etc. The lateral forces might act at
different points on a pier, but their effect can be simulated by considering an equivalent
force acting at bearing level.

Fig. 8.3 shows a typical rectangular well foundation with all the external load and the
resisting forces acting on the well in cohesionless soil. The external loads are,

WT = the vertical load at the bearing level of pier which includes loads of superstructure
(excluding the pier) and the live loads acting on it,
WS = weight of pier and well (considering relief due to buoyancy),
Pu = equivalent lateral load acting at the bearing level at height H above the maximum
scour level under ultimate lateral load.

[Pu = FlPt where, Fl = load factor, Pt = design lateral load]


The external forces are resisted by the soil surrounding the well. Since the well is a
massive one with depth/width ration (D f /B) normally not exceeding a value of 3, it is
assumed to rotate as a rigid body about a point O lying on the base of the well on the axis
passing through well. When the well rotates as a unit passive pressure develops in the
front and active pressure at the back, and the active pressure is normally neglected in the
analysis since it is quite small compared to the magnitude of the passive pressure. The
high lateral pressure that develops at the bottom of the back of the wall is assumed to be
resisted by a line load Fc at the bottom of the well.

Two cases are considered:

1. Stability analysis of wells in cohesionless soils.
2. Stability analysis of wells in cohesive soils.

The principle of analysis in both the cases are based on the principles enunicated by
Broms (1964) for short piles.

In both the cases it is required to determine the depth of embedment of the well (grip
length) under ultimate lateral load conditions. With a suitable factor of safety, the
movement or rotation of the well at the bearing level should be within the permissible
limits. WT

Scour level
pb mkpDL
eb Rb

Fig. 8.3 Satiability analysis of well foundation in cohesionless soils.


9.1 Introduction

The primary objective, in civil engineering, of a subsoil investigation is to determine

stratigraphy and pertinent physical properties of soils underlying the site so that a safe and
an economical foundation may be designed. Soil stratigraphy is most commonly
determined by making borings, test pits etc. and collecting soil samples, disturbed and
undisturbed, and carrying out necessary tests on these samples. Though boring is most
widely used method of subsoil investigation, there are many other methods of subsoil
investigation and more common of these methods are discussed briefly in this chapter.

The characteristic of soils are generally variable and may change sharply within limited
distances. Degree of thoroughness and completeness required of an investigation is linked
with job requirements and availability of time and funds.

Pertinent physical properties generally needed from an investigation are strength,

compressibility and permeability. Often the chemical nature of subsoil and ground water
may be desired to evaluate hazard of corrosion on the foundation structure.

Physical properties of soils may be evaluated from in-situ test and also from laboratory
tests on undisturbed, disturbed and/or remoulded soil samples. Certain methods for in-situ
measurements of soil properties are very briefly described. Measurements of soil
properties in the laboratory, requirements for obtaining undisturbed samples of soil are also
discussed. It is imperative that the data obtained from field and laboratory investigation is
presented in a systematic manner.

To achieve the objective stated at the very beginning of this section, soil investigation may
have to be carried out in stages. On initial broad determination of stratigraphy and physical
properties, particular zone may be investigated in greater detail. Furthermore, it is
desirable that information predicted from soil investigation carried prior to construction work
is compared with information revealed say by excavation etc. during construction work. If
there is significant variation between reality and prediction, then further investigation may
be necessary to recheck the design considerations.


It may also be necessary to carry out certain post-construction observations to ensure that
assumptions made in design are satisfied. Observations for pore water pressure,
settlement etc. after an embankment is constructed can be included in this category. Such
post construction observations may not be explicit in the objective stated earlier but should
form part of the general soil investigation.

Thus subsoil investigation in general may consist of the following four stages.

1. Initial studies and explorations to determine soil stratification and characteristics

required for design.
2. Amplification, if necessary, of specific portions of the initial investigation to obtain more
complete information, as desirable during the design phase.
3. Verification of anticipated foundation conditions during construction so that changes
may be made, if necessary, to ensure proper performance and control for assurance of
compliance with design.
4. Observation of structure and soil performance following construction.
5. Item (1) and (3) are to be considered essential. Items (2) and (4) may be limited or
even eliminated, depending on the nature of the project.

9.2 Depth, Lateral Extent of Exploration and Borings for Exploration

9.2.1 Depth of Exploration

The depth of investigation depends on the size and type of proposed structure and
character and sequence of subsurface strata. In general, the depth of investigation shall be
such so as to expose any stratum that would adversely affect the performance of the
proposed structure.


Thumb Rules

(i) Unless bedrock is encountered first, the investigation shall be carried to the point at
which the vertical stress due to proposed structure is equal to or less than 10 percent of
original effective stress at the point before the structure is constructed. The depth of
investigation may be increased to the point, where increase in stress due to structure is
only 5 percent or less of the original stress when compressible strata of soft to medium
softness is encountered extending to the recommended depth of investigation. In absence
of structural loadings, the above ruling may be simplified and stated as follows.

(ii) (a) It is good practice to have one boring carried the bedrock or at least to a level well
below the anticipated level of influence of the building.
(b) For light structures, insensitive to settlement, the borings should be extended to a depth
equal to 4 times the probable footing width but to not less than 6 m below the lowest part of
the foundation.
(c) For more heavily loaded structures such as multi-storey structures and for framed
structures at least 50 percent of the borings should be extended to a depth not less than 15
m below the lowest part of the foundation.
(d) Where bedrock is encountered it should be proved by boring to a minimum depth of 3

Number and relative positions of various field tests such as boreholes, static cone
penetration tests, dynamic cone penetration tests, plate load tests, pressuremeter tests
etc. depend upon:

1. Nature of soil profile – regular or erratic.

2. Type of structure – sensitive, insensitive etc.
3. Size or extent of the job

Whether soil profile is regular or erratic can be known from the initial few boreholes. When
the area to be investigated is large and/or when the plant layout is not finalised, a few
widely spaced preliminary boreholes are recommended. these preliminary boreholes give
rough ideas about the nature of sub-soil in the area and help in planning detailed
investigation. For a job in which plant layout is practically finalised, one or other of the field
tests, depending on merit, are spaced to fall in all the important plant units. These tests
may be kept to the minimum initially and when warranted by erratic subsoil nature, they
can be supplemented by additional field tests.


At all times, the investigation should be conducted considering the requirements and needs
of the structure. For structures housing sensitive equipment such as atomic reactors etc.,
investigation has to be sufficiently extensive so as to reveal soil profile with great precision.
However, for ordinary building investigation can be limited, to economise in money and
time, and somewhat more conservative values can be considered for soil parameters
needed in the design.

In case of buildings, certain guidelines are given in in standards for selecting spacing and
number of boreholes and or trial pits. For example, IS 1892 considers that a single
borehole at the centre of the plot is enough for small and less important buildings. For
compact building site on about 0.4 hectare, it specifics five bores, one in each corner and
one at the centre. Author considers it is advisible to have minimum three bores for a virgin
site area. For very large site of industrial and residential colonies, it is advisible to have
number of boreholes on a grid pattern.

In case of exploration for highways, the spacing of boreholes in general could be stated as
one at every interval of 200 m. This spacing may be reduced to 50 m when the subsoil is
highly erratic and may be increased to 500 m when the subsoil is very uniform.

When the exploration is to be carried out for earth and rockfill dams, guidelines given in IS
6995 would be beneficial.


9.3 Methods for Sub-soil Investigation

Method Descriptions Applicability

(1) Aerial For intensive investigation in
Photography accessible area aerial photography
is not essential for soil exploration.
For inaccessible and unfamiliar
areas air photography may be
adopted as an aid in planning for
detailed exploration work.
(2) Geophysical They are grouped as (a) seismic
Methods (b) electrical (c) magnetic (d)
gravitational and (e) sonic. Shock
or seismic waves are created by
detonating small charges or by
striking a rod or a plate near the
surface. The radiating waves are
picked up and time of travel from
source recorded by detectors
known as geophones or
seismometers. In seismic
method, either refracted or
reflected waves are detected.
(a) Seismic

(i) Refraction In this method, time of arrival of Used to determine depth to rock or
method waves refracted at interfaces depths of significantly differing soil
between different strata are strata. Can be used only when
recorded. velocity of travel in lower layers is
significantly greater than the upper
ones. This method is usually limited
to depths up to 30 m in a single
(ii) Reflection Here seismometers record the This method is usually adopted to
method travel time of seismic waves determine depth of deep bed rocks.


Method Descriptions Applicability
reflected from interface between Generally, applied for depths
adjoining strata. exceeding 600 m. At present this
method is mainly used in offshore
(iii) Velocity In this method, seismic waves These methods are used for
sounding are generated. Their travel times determining dynamic, elastic and
methods and hence travel velocities in shear modulus which enable to
travelling through soil along the estimate coefficient of elastic
hole in down or up direction or uniform compression etc.
across the holes are determined.
(b) Electrical In this method four metallic Used to determine vertical as well
resistivity spikes to serve as electrodes are as horizontal extent of soil strata at
method driven into the ground at equal foundation site for large structures,
intervals along a line. A known such as dams. Depth of exploration
potential is then applied between is generally limited to about 30 m.
the outermost electrodes and Also used to obtain data for
potential drop is measured designing electrical grounding
between the innermost system.
electrodes. Flow of electric
current is also measured. This
enables to estimate resistivity of
stratum. From known resistivity of
different strata, prediction can be
made about the nature of the
(c) Magnetic Rarely used in civil engineering
method works.
(d) Gravitational Rarely used in civil engineering
method works.


9.4 Details and Presentation of Soil Investigation Report

In any preliminary preparation of a project, the site investigation report to be followed by a

detailed soil investigation report. It is also called the Geotechnical Report. This report gives
the detail of the field and laboratory investigations that were carried out and the final
recommendations. The usual format used by most agencies for a building site is as follows
It should be suitably modified for other works like an embankment cutting.

Section 1: Introduction giving scope of investigation.

Section 2: Field investigation.

a) Description of field investigations

b) Data of field investigations (log of boreholes with diagrams and data of in-situ tests)

Section 3: Laboratory investigation

a) List of routine laboratory tests conducted (grain size, limits, swell tests, unconfined
results of laboratory in standard format) this may be presented as appendix.
b) List of special test conducted. Compression, triaxial test, consolidation test, and test of
water with reference to tables in which they are presented.

Section 4: Discussion of subsoil conditions.

This is the heart of the report and should be clear and concise. It is reported under the
following subheads:

a) Description of soil condition as evaluated from all field and laboratory results.
b) Analysis and discussion of field and laboratory test results.
c) Design criteria like allowable settlements to be used.
d) Calculation for determining safe bearing capacity, capacity of pile, slope stability, etc.
e) Recommendation on choice of type of foundation, allowable bearing pressure, slope
stability, ground improvement, etc.
f) Recommendation of soil parameter for structural design.
g) Recommendation for safely measure to be taken during construction such as


Section 5: Conclusions and final recommendations.

This last part of the report should give definite recommendations based on the field and
laboratory results.
Note: the format has been recommended by the Indian Geotechnical Society .



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International Edition, Civil Engineering Series.

2. Das, B. M. (1998). Principles of Geotechnical Engineering. Fourth Edition, PWS


3. Murthy, V. N. S. (1992). A Text Book on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering.

Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition, UBSPD Publishers.

4. Nayak, N. V. (2001). Foundation Design Manual, Fourth Edition, Dhanpatrai

Publications, New Delhi.

5. Peck, R. B., Hanson, W. E., and Thornburn, T. H. (1974). Foundation Engineering. 2nd
Edition, Wiley International Edition.

6. Terzaghi, K. (1943). Theoretical Soil Mechanics.Wiley, New York.

7. Varghese, P.C. (2005). Foundation Engineering. Prentice-Hall of India.

8. Vesic, A. S. (1973). Analysis of ultimate loads of shallow foundations, Journal of the

Soil Mechanics and Foundation Division, Americal Scoiety of Civil Engineers, Vol. 99,
No. SM-1, pp. 45-73.